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Full text of "Works. With introd., general essay and notes by Andrew Lang"

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Dealings with the Firm 

OF 

DOMBEY AND SON 

Wholesale, Retail, and for Exportation 



By CHARLES DICKENS 



WITH INTRODUCTION AND NOTES 

BY 

ANDREW LANG 



In Two Vols. Vol. II. 

WITH THE ORIGINAL ILLUSTRATIONS 



LONDON: CHAPMAN HALL, L D. 

NEW YORK : CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 
1897 



CONTENTS OF VOL. II. 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

PAGE 

The Wedding 1 



CHAPTER XXXII. 
The Wooden Midshipman goes to Pieces 21 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 
Contrasts 43 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 
Another Mother and Daughter 69 

CHAPTER XXXV. 
The Happy Pair . . 74 

CHAPTER XXXVI. 

Housewarming .......... 89 

CHAPTER XXXVII. 

More Warnings than One ........ 104 



vi CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

PAGE 

Miss Tox improves an Old Acquaintance ..... 118 

CHAPTER XXXIX. 

Further Adventures of Captain Edward Cuttle, Mariner . . 130 

CHAPTER XL. 
Domestic Relations 151 

CHAPTER XLI. 

New Voices in the Waves 171 

CHAPTER XLII. 

Confidential and Accidental 184 

CHAPTER XLIII. 

The Watches of the Night 203 

CHAPTER XLIV. 

A Separation . 214 

CHAPTER XLV. 
The Trusty Agent 227 

CHAPTER XLVI. 
Recognizant and Reflective . . 237 

CHAPTER XLVII. 
The Thunderbolt . 253 



CONTENTS. vii 

CHAPTER XLVIII. 

PAGE 

The Flight of Florence ... . .278 

CHAPTER XLIX. 
The Midshipman makes a Discovery . .... . . 293 

CHAPTER L. 

Mr. Toots'a Complaint . .315 

CHAPTER LI. 
Mr. Dombey and the World . . 337 

CHAPTER LII. 

Secret Intelligence 347 

CHAPTER LIH. 
More Intelligence 366 

CHAPTER LIV. 
The Fugitives 386 

CHAPTER LV. 

Rob the Grinder loses his Place 400 

CHAPTER LVI. 

Several People delighted, and the Game Chicken disgusted . . 415 

CHAPTER LVII. 
Another Wedding .... 443 



PAQR 

. 453 



viii CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER LVIIL 
After a Lapse .... 

CHAPTER LIX. 

472 
Retribution . . 

CHAPTER LX. 

496 
Chiefly Matrimonial . . - 

CHAPTER LXI. 

, n .- 512 

Relenting 



Final . 



CHAPTER LXII. 

528 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS. 

VOL. II. 



PAGB 

MR. DOMBEY AND THE WORLD . . H. K. BROWNE (Frontispiece) 
COMING HOME FROM CHURCH . . . . H. K. BROWNE 12 

A VISITOR OP DISTINCTION ., 26 

THE REJECTED ALMS ,, 72 

MRS. DOMBEY AT HOME ,, 96 

MlSS TOX PAYS A VISIT TO THE ToODLE FAMILY ,, 124 

THE MIDSHIPMAN is BOARDED BY THE ENEMY . ,, 148 

A CHANCE MEETING ,, 168 

MR. DOMBEY AND HIS "CONFIDENTIAL AGENT" . ,, 194 

FLORENCE PARTS FROM A VERY OLD FRIEND . ,, 222 

ABSTRACTION AND RECOGNITION .... 238 

FLORENCE AND EDITH ON THE STAIRCASE . ,, 272 

THE SHADOW IN THE LITTLE PARLOUR . ,, 310 

SECRET INTELLIGENCE ,, 352 

MR. CARKER IN HIS HOUR OF TRIUMPH . ,, 390 

ON THE DARK ROAD ., 402 

AN ARRIVAL. . .... ,, 434 

"LET HIM REMEMBER IT IN THAT ROOM, YEARS 

TO COME" 486 

ANOTHER WEDDING 506 



. 



DOMBEY AND SON, 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

THE WEDDING. 

DAWN, with its passionless blank face, steals shivering to the 
church beneath which lies the dust of little Paul and his 
mother, and looks in at the windows. It is cold and dark. 
Night crouches yet, upon the pavement, and broods, sombre 
and heavy, in nooks and corners of the building. The 
steeple-clock, perched up above the houses, emerging from 
beneath another of the countless ripples in the tide of time 
that regularly roll and break on the eternal shore, is greyly 
visible, like a stone beacon, recording how the sea flows on ; 
but within doors, dawn, at first, can only peep at night, and 
see that it is there. 

Hovering feebly round the church, and looking in, dawn 
moans and weeps for its short reign, and its tears trickle on 
the window-glass, and the trees against the church-wall bow 
their heads, and wring their many hands in sympathy. Night, 
growing pale before it, gradually fades out of the church, 
but lingers in the vaults below, and sits upon the coffins. 
And now comes bright day, burnishing the steeple-clock, 
and reddening the spire, and drying up the tears of dawn, 
and stifling its complaining; and the scared dawn, following 
the night, and chasing it from its last refuge, shrinks into 

VOL. n. 






2 DOMBEY AND SON. 

the vaults itself and hides, with a frightened face, among 
the dead, until night returns, refreshed, to drive it out. 

And now, the mice, who have been busier with the prayer- 
books than their proper owners, and with the hassocks, more 
worn by their little teeth than by human knees, hide their 
bright eyes in their holes, and gather close together in affright 
at the resounding clashing of the church-door. For the beadle, 
that man of power, comes early this morning with the sexton ; 
and Mrs. Miff, the wheezy little pew-opener a mighty dry 
old lady, sparely dressed, with not an inch of fulness any 
where about her is also here, and has been waiting at the 
church-gate half-an-hour, as her place is, for the beadle. 

A vinegary face has Mrs. Miff, and a mortified bonnet, 
and eke a thirsty soul for sixpences and shillings. Beckoning 
to stray people to come into pews, has given Mrs. Miff an 
air of mystery; and there is reservation in the eye of Mrs. 
Miff, as always knowing of a softer seat, but having her 
suspicions of the fee. There is no such fact as Mr. Miff, 
nor has there been, these twenty years, and Mrs. Miff would 
rather not allude to him. He held some bad opinions, it 
would seem, about free seats ; and though Mrs. Miff hopes 
he may be gone upwards, she couldn't positively undertake 
to say so. 

Busy is Mrs. Miff this morning at the church-door, beating 
and dusting the altar-cloth, the carpet, and the cushions; 
and much has Mrs. Miff to say, about the Avedding they are 
going to have. Mrs. Miff is told, that the new furniture 
and alterations in the house cost full five thousand pound if 
they cost a penny ; and Mrs. Miff has heard, upon the best 
authority, that the lady hasn't got a sixpence wherewithal 
to bless herself. Mrs. Miff remembers, likewise, as if it had 
happened yesterday, the first wife's funeral, and then the 
christening, and then the other funeral ; and Mrs. Miff says, 
by-the-bye she'll soap-and-water that 'ere tablet presently, 
against the company arrive. Mr. Sownds, the Beadle, who 
is sitting in the sun upon the church steps all this time 



EXTENSIVE PREPARATIONS. 3 

(and seldom does anything else, except, in cold weather, sitting 
by the fire), approves of Mrs. Miff's discourse, and asks if Mrs. 
Miff has heard it said, that the lady is uncommon handsome ? 
The information Mrs. Miff has received, being of this nature, 
Mr. Sownds the Beadle, who, though orthodox and corpulent, 
is still an admirer of female beauty, observes, with unction, 
yes, he hears she is a spanker an expression that seems 
somewhat forcible to Mrs. Miff, or would, from any lips 
but those of Mr. Sownds the Beadle. 

In Mr. Dombey's house, at this same time, there is great 
stir and bustle, more especially among the women : not one 
of whom has had a wink of sleep since four o'clock, and all 
of whom were full dressed before six. Mr. Towlinson is an 
object of greater consideration than usual to the housemaid, 
and the cook says at breakfast- time that one wedding makes 
many, which the housemaid can't believe, and don't think 
true at all. Mr. Towlinson reserves his sentiments on this 
question ; being rendered something gloomy by the engage 
ment of a foreigner with whiskers (Mr. Towlinson is whisker- 
less himself), who has been hired to accompany the happy 
pair to Paris, and who is busy packing the new chariot. In 
respect of this personage, Mr. Towlinson admits, presently, 
that he never knew of any good that ever come of foreigners ; 
and being charged by the ladies with prejudice, says, look at 
Bonaparte who was at the head of 'em, and see what he was 
always up to ! Which the housemaid says is very true. 

The pastry-cook is hard at work in the funereal room in 
Brook Street, and the very tall young men are busy looking 
on. One of the very tall young men already smells of sherry, 
and his eyes have a tendency to become fixed in his head, 
and to stare at objects without seeing them. The very tall 
young man is conscious of this failing in himself; and informs 
his comrade that it's his "exciseman." The very tall young 
man would say excitement, but his speech is hazy. 

The men who play the bells have got scent of the marriage ; 
and the marrow-bones and cleavers too ; and a brass band 



4> DOMBEY AND SON. 

too. The first, are practising in a back settlement near 
Battle-bridge ; the second, put themselves in communication, 
through their chief, with Mr. Towlinson, to whom they offer 
terms to be bought off; and the third, in the person of an 
artful trombone, lurks and dodges round the corner, waiting 
for some traitor tradesman to reveal the place and hour of 
breakfast, for a bribe. Expectation and excitement extend 
further yet, and take a wider range. From Balls Pond, Mr. 
Perch brings Mrs. Perch to spend the day with Mr. Dombey's 
.servants, and accompany them, surreptitiously, to see the 
wedding. In Mr. Toots's lodgings, Mr. Toots attires himself 
as if he were at least the Bridegroom ; determined to behold 
the spectacle in splendour from a secret corner of the gallery, 
and thither to convey the Chicken : for it is Mr. Toots's 
desperate intent to point out Florence to the Chicken, then 
and there, and openly to say, "Now, Chicken, I will not 
deceive you any longer ; the friend I have sometimes men 
tioned to you is myself; Miss Dombey is the object of my 
passion ; what are your opinions, Chicken, in this state of 
things, and Avhat, on the spot, do you advise?" The so- 
much-to-be-astonished Chicken, in the meanwhile, dips his 
beak into a tankard of strong beer, in Mr. Toots's kitchen, 
and pecks up two pounds of beefsteaks. In Princess's Place, 
Miss Tox is up and doing ; for she too, though in sore distress, 
is resolved to put a shilling in the hands of Mrs. Miff, and 
see the ceremony which has a cruel fascination for her, from 
some lonely corner. The quarters of the Wooden Midship 
man are all alive ; for Captain Cuttle, in his ankle-jacks and 
with a huge shirt-collar, is seated at his breakfast, listening 
to Rob the Grinder as he reads the marriage service to him 
beforehand, under orders, to the end that the Captain may 
perfectly understand the solemnity he is about to witness : for 
which purpose, the Captain gravely lays injunctions on his 
chaplain, from time to time, to "put about," or to "over 
haul that Vre article again," or to stick to his own duty, 
and leave the Amens to him, the Captain ; one of which 



COUSIN FEENIX ARRIVES. 5 

he repeats, whenever a pause is made by Rob the Grinder, 
with sonorous satisfaction. 

Besides all this, and much more, twenty nursery-maids in 
Mr. Dombey's street alone, have promised twenty families of 
little women, whose instinctive interest in nuptials dates from 
their cradles, that they shall go and see the marriage. Truly, 
Mr. Sownds the Beadle has good reason to feel himself in 
office, as he suns his portly figure on the church steps, wait 
ing for the marriage hour. Truly, Mrs. Miff' has cause to 
pounce on an unlucky dwarf child, with a giant baby, who 
peeps in at the porch, and drive her forth with indignation ! 

Cousin Feenix has come over from abroad, expressly to 
attend the marriage. Cousin Feenix was a man about town, 
forty years ago ; but he is still so juvenile in figure and in 
manner, and so well got up, that strangers are amazed when 
they discover latent wrinkles in his lordship's face, and crows 1 
feet in his eyes ; and first observe him, not exactly certain 
when he walks across a room, of going quite straight to 
where he wants to go. But Cousin Feenix, getting up at 
half-past seven o'clock or so, is quite another thing from 
Cousin Feenix got up ; and very dim, indeed, he looks, while 
being shaved at Long's Hotel, in Bond Street. 

Mr. Dombey leaves his dressing-room, amidst a general 
whisking away of the women on the staircase, who disperse 
in all directions, with a great rustling of skirts, except Mrs. 
Perch, who, being (but that she always is) in an interesting 
situation, is not nimble, and is obliged to face him, and is 
ready to sink with confusion as she curtseys ; may Heaven 
avert all evil consequences from the house of Perch ! Mr. 
Dombey walks up to the drawing-room, to bide his time. 
Gorgeous are Mr. Dombey's new blue coat, fawn-coloured 
pantaloons, and lilac waistcoat ; and a whisper goes about 
the house, that Mr. Dombey 's hair is curled, 

A double knock announces the arrival of the Major, who is 
gorgeous too, and wears a whole geranium in his button-hole, 
and has his hair curled tight and crisp, as well the Native knows. 



6 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Dombey!" says the Major, putting out both hands, 
" how are you ? " 

"Major," says Mr. Dombey, "how are You!" 

"By Jove, Sir," says the Major, "Joey B. is in such case 
this morning, Sir," and here he hits himself hard upon 
the breast "in such case this morning, Sir, that, damme, 
Dombey, he has half a mind to make a double marriage of 
it, Sir, and take the mother." 

Mr. Dombey smiles ; but faintly, even for him ; for Mr. 
Dombey feels that he is going to be related to the mother, 
and that, under those circumstances, she is not to be joked 
about. 

" Dombey," says the Major, seeing this, "I give you joy. 
I congratulate you, Dombey. By the Lord, Sir," says the 
Major, "you are more to be envied, this day, than any man 
in England ! " 

Here again Mr. Dombey "s assent is qualified ; because he 
is going to confer a great distinction on a lady; and, no 
doubt, she is to be envied most. 

"As to Edith Granger, Sir," pursues the Major, "there is 
not a woman in all Europe but might and would, Sir, you 
will allow Bagstock to add and would give her ears, and 
her ear-rings, too, to be in Edith Granger's place." 

"You are good enough to say so, Major," says Mr. 
Dombey. 

"Dombey," returns the Major, "you know it. Let us 
have no false delicacy. You know it. Do you know it, 
or do you not, Dombey?" says the Major, almost in a 
passion. 

"Oh, really, Major " 

"Damme, Sir," retorts the Major, "do you know that 
fact, or do you not ? Dombey ! Is old Joe your friend ? 
Are we on that footing of unreserved intimacy, Dombey, 
that may justify a man a blunt old Joseph B., Sir in 
speaking out ; or am I to take open order, Dombey, and to 
keep my distance, and to stand on forms?" 



CONGRATULATIONS. 7 

''My dear Major Bagstock," says Mr. Dombey, with a 
gratified air, "you are quite warm. 1 '' 

" By Gad, Sir,"" says the Major, " I am warm. Joseph B. 
does not deny it, Dombey. He is warm. This is an occa 
sion, Sir, that calls forth all the honest sympathies remaining 
in an old, infernal, battered, used-up, invalided, J. B. carcase. 
And I tell you what, Dombey at such a time a man must 
blurt out what he feels, or put a muzzle on ; and Joseph 
Bagstock tells you to your face, Dombey, as he tells his club 
behind your back, that he never will be muzzled when Paul 
Dombey is in question. Now, damme, Sir," concludes the 
Major, with great firmness, "what do you make of that?" 

"Major, 1 ' says Mr. Dombey, "I assure you that I am 
really obliged to you. I had no idea of checking your too 
partial friendship.' 11 

"Not too partial, Sir!"" exclaims the choleric Major. 
" Dombey, I deny it." 

" Your friendship I will say then," pursues Mr. Dombey, 
"on any account. Nor can I forget, Major, on such an 
occasion as the present, how much I am indebted to it." 

"Dombey," says the Major, with appropriate action, "that 
is the hand of Joseph Bagstock : of plain old Joey B., Sir, 
if you like that better ! That is the hand of which His 
Royal Highness the late Duke of York did me the honour 
to observe, Sir, to His Royal Highness the latei Duke of 
Kent, that it was the hand of Josh. : a rough and tough, 
and possibly an up-to-snuff, old vagabond. Dombey, may 
the present moment be the least unhappy of our lives. God 
bless you ! " 

Now enters Mr. Corker, gorgeous likewise, and smiling like 
a wedding-guest indeed. He can scarcely let Mr. Dombey's 
hand go, he is so congratulatory ; and he shakes the Major's 
hand so heartily at the same time, that his voice shakes too, 
in accord with his arms, as it comes sliding from between 
his teeth. 

"The very day is auspicious," says Mr. Corker. "The 



8 DOMBEY AND SON. 

brightest and most genial weather ! I hope I am not a 
moment late?" 

"Punctual to your time, Sir," says the Major. 

"I am rejoiced, I am sure," says Mr. Carker. "I was 
afraid I might be a few seconds after the appointed time, 
for I was delayed by a procession of waggons ; and I took 
the liberty of riding round to Brook Street" this to Mr. 
Dombey "to leave a few poor rarities of flowers for Mrs. 
Dombey. A man in my position, and so distinguished as 
to be invited here, is proud to offer some homage in 
acknowledgment of his vassalage : and as I have no doubt 
Mrs. Dombey is overwhelmed with what is costly and 
magnificent ; " with a strange glance at his patron ; " I 
hope the very poverty of my offering, may find favour 
for it." 

"Mrs. Dombey, that is to be," returns Mr. Dombey, 
condescendingly, "will be very sensible of your attention, 
Carker, I am sure." 

"And if she is to be Mrs. Dombey this morning, Sir," 
says the Major, putting down his coffee-cup, and looking 
at his watch, "it's high time we were off!" 

Forth, in a barouche, ride Mr. Dombey, Major Bagstock, 
and Mr. Carker, to the church. Mr. Sownds the Beadle has 
long risen from the steps, and is in waiting with his cocked 
hat in his hand. Mrs. Miff curtseys and proposes chairs in 
the vestry. Mr. Dombey prefers remaining in the church. 
As he looks up at the organ, Miss Tox in the gallery shrinks 
behind the fat leg of a cherub on a monument, with cheeks 
like a young Wind. Captain Cuttle, on the contrary, stands 
up and waves his hook, in token of welcome and encourage 
ment. Mr. Toots informs the Chicken, behind his hand, that 
the middle gentleman, he in the fawn-coloured pantaloons, 
is the father of his love. The Chicken hoarsely whispers 
Mr. Toots that he's as stiff a cove as ever he see, but that 
it is within the resources of Science to double him up, with 
one blow in the waistcoat. 



THE "GOOD LADY 11 ENTERS. 9 

Mr. Sownds and Mrs. Miff are eyeing Mr. Dombey from a 
little distance, when the noise of approaching wheels is heard, 
and Mr. Sownds goes out ; Mrs. Miff, meeting Mr. Dombey 's 
eye as it is withdrawn from the presumptuous maniac up 
stairs, who salutes him with so much urbanity, drops a curtsey, 
and informs him that she believes his "good lady" is come. 
Then there is a crowding and a whispering at the door, and 
the good lady enters, with a haughty step. 

There is no sign upon her face, of last night's suffering; 
there is no trace in her manner, of the woman on the bended 
knees reposing her wild head, in beautiful abandonment, upon 
the pillow of the sleeping girl. That girl, all gentle and 
lovely, is at her side a striking contrast to her own disdainful 
and defiant figure, standing there, composed, erect, inscrutable 
of will, resplendent and majestic in the zenith of its charms, 
yet beating down, and treading on, the admiration that it 
challenges. 

There is a pause while Mr. Sownds the Beadle glides into 
the vestry for the clergyman and clerk. At this juncture, 
Mrs. Skewton speaks to Mr. Dombey : more distinctly and 
emphatically than her custom is, and moving at the same 
time, close to Edith. 

"My dear Dombey, 1 ' said the good Mama, "I fear I must 
relinquish darling Florence after all, and suffer her to go 
home, as she herself proposed. After my loss of to-day, my 
dear Dombey, I feel I shall not have spirits, even for her 
society." 

" Had she not better stay with you ? " returns the Bride 
groom. 

" I think not, my dear Dombey. No, I think not. I shall 
be better alone. Besides, my dearest Edith will be her 
natural and constant guardian when you return, and I had 
better not encroach upon her trust, perhaps. She might be 
jealous. Eh, dear Edith ? " 

The affectionate Mama presses her daughter's arm, as she 
says this ; perhaps entreating her attention earnestly. 



10 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"To be serious, my dear Dombey," she resumes, "I will 
relinquish our dear child, and not inflict my gloom upon her. 
We have settled that, just now. She fully understands, dear 
Dombey. Edith, my dear, she fully understands. 1 ' 

Again, the good mother presses her daughter's arm. Mr. 
Dombey offers no additional remonstrance ; for the clergyman 
and clerk appear ; and Mrs. Miff, and Mr. Sownds the Beadle, 
group the party in their proper places at the altar rails. 

" * Who giveth this woman to be married to this man ? ' r 

Cousin Feenix does that. He has come from Baden-Baden 
on purpose. " Confound it," Cousin Feenix says good- 
natured creature, Cousin Feenix "when we do get a rich 
City fellow into the family, let us show him some attention; 
let us do something for him." 

" / give this woman to be married to this man," saith Cousin 
Feenix therefore. Cousin Feenix, meaning to go in a straight 
line, but turning off sideways by reason of his wilful legs, 
gives the wrong woman to be married to this man, at first 
to wit, a bridesmaid of some condition, distantly connected 
with the family, and ten years Mrs. Skewton's junior but 
Mrs. Miff, interposing her mortified bonnet, dexterously turns 
him back, and runs him, as on castors, full at the "good 
lady:"" whom Cousin Feenix giveth to be married to this 
man accordingly. 

And will they in the sight of heaven ? 

Aye, that they will : Mr. Dombey says he will. And 
what says Edith ? She will. 

So, from that day forward, for better for worse, for richer 
for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, 
till death do them part, they plight their troth to one 
another, and are married. 

In a firm, free hand, the Bride subscribes her name in the 
register, when they adjourn to the vestry. "There an't a 
many ladies comes here," Mrs. Miff says with a curtsey to 
look at Mrs. Miff, at such a season, is to make her mortified 
bonnet go down with a dip " writes their names like this 



SALUTING THE BRIDE. 11 

good lady ! " Mr. Sownds the Beadle thinks it is a truly 
spanking signature, and worthy of the writer this, however, 
between himself and conscience. 

Florence signs too, but unapplauded, for her hand shakes. 
All the party sign ; Cousin Feenix last ; who puts his noble 
name into a wrong place, and enrols himself as having been 
born that morning. 

The Major now salutes the Bride right gallantly, and 
carries out that branch of military tactics in reference to all 
the ladies : notwithstanding Mrs. Skewton's being extremely 
hard to kiss, and squeaking shrilly in the sacred edifice. The 
example is followed by Cousin Feenix, and even by Mr. 
Dombey. Lastly, Mr. Carker, with his white teeth glistening, 
approaches Edith, more as if he meant to bite her, than to 
taste the sweets that linger on her lips. 

There is a glow upon her proud cheek, and a flashing in 
her eyes, that may be meant to stay him ; but it does not, 
for he salutes her as the rest have done, and wishes her all 
happiness. 

"If wishes, 11 says he in a low voice, "are not superfluous, 
applied to such a union." 

" I thank you, Sir, 11 she answers, with a curled lip, and a 
heaving bosom. 

But, does Edith feel still, as on the night when she knew 
that Mr. Dombey would return to offer his alliance, that 
Carker knows her thoroughly, and reads her right, and that 
she is more degraded by his knowledge of her, than by aught 
else? Is it for this reason that her haughtiness shrinks 
beneath his smile, like snow within the hand that grasps it 
firmly, and that her imperious glance droops in meeting his, 
and seeks the ground ? 

"I am proud to see, 11 said Mr. Carker, with a servile 
stooping of his neck, which the revelations making by his 
eyes and teeth proclaim to be a lie, " I am proud to see that 
my humble offering is graced by Mrs. Dombey 1 s hand, and 
permitted to hold so favoured a place in so joyful an occasion." 



12 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Though she bends her head, in answer, there is something 
in the momentary action of her hand, as if she would crush 
the flowers it holds, and fling them, with contempt, upon 
the ground. But, she puts the hand through the arm of 
her new husband, who has been standing near, conversing 
with the Major, and is proud again, and motionless, and 
silent. 

The carriages are once more at the church door. Mr. 
Dombey, with his bride upon his arm, conducts her through 
the twenty families of little women who are on the steps, and 
every one of whom remembers the fashion and the colour of 
her every article of dress from that moment, and reproduces 
it on her doll, who is for ever being married. Cleopatra and 
Cousin Feenix enter the same carnage. The Major hands 
into a second carriage, Florence, and the bridesmaid who so 
narrowly escaped being given away by mistake, and then 
enters it himself, and is followed by Mr. Carker. Horses 
prance and caper; coachmen and footmen shine in fluttering 
favours, flowers, and new-made liveries. Away they dash and 
rattle through the streets : and as they pass along, a thousand 
heads are turned to look at them, and a thousand sober 
moralists revenge themselves for not being married too, that 
morning, by reflecting that these people little think such 
happiness can't last. 

Miss Tox emerges from behind the cherub's leg, when all 
is quiet, and comes slowly down from the gallery. Miss Tox's 
eyes are red, and her pocket-handkerchief is damp. She is 
wounded, but not exasperated, and she hopes they may be 
happy. She quite admits to herself the beauty of the bride, 
and her own comparatively feeble and faded attractions ; but 
the stately image of Mr. Dombey in his lilac waistcoat, and 
his fawn-coloured pantaloons, is present to her mind, and 
Miss Tox weeps afresh, behind her veil, on her way home to 
Princess's Place. Captain Cuttle, having joined in all the 
amens and responses, with a devout growl, feels much im 
proved by his religious exercises; and in a peaceful frame of 



MARRIED. 13 

mind, pervades the body of the church, glazed hat in hand, 
and reads the tablet to the memory of little Paul. The 
gallant Mr. Toots, attended by the faithful Chicken, leaves 
the building in torments of love. The Chicken is as yet 
unable to elaborate a scheme for winning Florence, but his 
first idea has gained possession of him, and he thinks the 
doubling up of Mr. Dombey would be a move in the right 
direction. Mr. Dombey's servants come out of their hiding- 
places, and prepare to rush to Brook Street, when they are 
delayed by symptoms of indisposition on the part of Mrs. 
Perch, who entreats a glass of water, and becomes alarming ; 
Mrs. Perch gets better soon, however, and is borne away ; and 
Mrs. Miff, and Mr. Sownds the Beadle, sit upon the steps to 
count what they have gained by the affair, and talk it over, 
while the sexton tolls a funeral. 

Now, the carriages arrive at the Bride's residence, and the 
players on the bells begin to jingle, and the band strikes up, 
and Mr. Punch, that model of connubial bliss, salutes his wife. 
Now, the people run and push, and press round in a gaping 
throng, while Mr. Dombey, leading Mrs. Dombey by the hand, 
advances solemnly into the Feenix Halls. Now, the rest of 
the wedding party alight, and enter after them. And why 
does Mr. Carker, passing through the people to the hall-door, 
think of the old woman who called to him in the grove that 
morning ? Or why does Florence, as she passes, think, with 
a tremble, of her childhood, when she was lost, and of the 
visage of Good Mrs. Brown ? 

Now, there are more congratulations on this happiest of 
days, and more company, though not much; and now they 
leave the drawing-room, and range themselves at table in the 
dark-brown dining-room, which no confectioner can brighten 
up, let him garnish the exhausted negroes with as many 
flowers and love-knots as he will. 

The pastry-cook has done his duty like a man, though, and 
a rich breakfast is set forth. Mr. and Mrs. Chick have joined 
the party, among others. Mrs. Chick admires that Edith 



14 DOMBEY AND SON. 

should be, by nature, such a perfect Dombey ; and is affable 
and confidential to Mi's. Skewton, whose mind is relieved of a 
great load, and who takes her share of the champagne. The 
very tall young man who suffered from excitement early, is 
better; but a vague sentiment of repentance has seized upon 
him, and he hates the other very tall young man, and wrests 
dishes from him by violence, and takes a grim delight in 
disobliging the company. The company are cool and calm, 
and do not outrage the black hatchments of pictures looking 
down upon them, by any excess of mirth. Cousin Feenix and 
the Major are the gayest there ; but Mr. Carker has a smile 
for the whole table. He has an especial smile for the Bride, 
who very, very seldom meets it. 

Cousin Feenix rises, when the company have breakfasted, 
and the servants have left the room ; and wonderfully young 
he looks, with his white wristbands almost covering his hands 
(otherwise rather bony), and the bloom of the champagne in 
his cheeks. 

"Upon my honour," says Cousin Feenix, "although it's an 
unusual sort of thing in a private gentleman's house, I must 
beg leave to call upon you to drink what is usually called a 
in fact a toast." 

The Major very hoarsely indicates his approval. Mr. Carker, 
bending his head forward over the table in the direction of 
Cousin Feenix, smiles and nods a great many times. 

"A in fact it's not a " Cousin Feenix beginning again, 
thus, comes to a dead stop. 

"Hear, hear!" says the Major, in a tone of conviction. 

Mr. Carker softly claps his hands, and bending forward over 
the table again, smiles and nods a great many more times 
than before, as if he were particularly struck by this last 
observation, and desired personally to express his sense of the 
good it has done him. 

" It is," says Cousin Feenix, " an occasion in fact, when the 
general usages of life may be a little departed from, without 
impropriety; and although I never was an orator in my life, 



SPEECH OF COUSIN FEENIX. 15 

and when I was in the House of Commons, and had the 
honour of seconding the address, was in fact, was laid up for 
a fortnight with the consciousness of failure " 

The Major and Mr. Carker are so much delighted by this 
fragment of personal history, that Cousin Feenix laughs, and 
addressing them individually, goes on to say : 

"And in point of fact, when I was devilish ill still, you 
know, I feel that a duty devolves upon me. And when a 
duty devolves upon an Englishman, he is bound to get out 
of it, in my opinion, in the best way he can. Well ! our 
family has had the gratification, to-day, of connecting itself, 
in the person of my lovely and accomplished relative, whom 
I now see in point of fact, present " 

Here there is general applause. 

"Present," repeats Cousin Feenix, feeling that it is a neat 
point which will bear repetition, " with one who that is to 
say, with a man, at whom the finger of scorn can never in 
fact, with my honourable friend Dombey, if he will allow me 
to call him so. 1 ' 

Cousin Feenix bows to Mr. Dombey ; Mr. Dombey solemnly 
returns the bow; everybody is more or less gratified and 
affected by this extraordinary, and perhaps unprecedented, 
appeal to the feelings. 

" I have not, 11 says Cousin Feenix, " enjoyed those oppor 
tunities which I could have desired, of cultivating the 
acquaintance of my friend Dombey, and studying those 
qualities which do equal honour to his head, and, in point 
of fact, to his heart ; for it has been my misfortune to be, as 
we used to say in my time in the House of Commons, when 
it was not the custom to allude to the Lords, and when the 
order of parliamentary proceedings was perhaps better observed 
than it is now to be in in point of fact, 11 says Cousin Feenix, 
cherishing his joke, with great slyness, and finally bringing it 
out with a jerk, "'in another place I 11 

The Major falls into convulsions, and is recovered with 
difficulty. 



16 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"But I know sufficient of my friend Dombey, 11 resumes 
Cousin Feenix in a graver tone, as if he had suddenly become 
a sadder and wiser man, " to know that he is, in point of fact, 
what may be emphatically called a a merchant a British 
merchant and a and a man. And although I have been 
resident abroad for some years (it would give me great pleasure 
to receive my friend Dombey, and everybody here, at Baden- 
Baden, and to have an opportunity of making "em known to 
the Grand Duke), still I know enough, I flatter myself, of 
my lovely and accomplished relative, to know that she pos 
sesses every requisite to make a man happy, and that her 
marriage with my friend Dombey is one of inclination and 
affection on both sides. 11 

Many smiles and nods from Mr. Carker. 

" Therefore," says Cousin Feenix, " I congratulate the family 
of which I am a member, on the acquisition of my friend 
Dombey. I congratulate my friend Dombey on his union 
with my lovely and accomplished relative who possesses every 
requisite to make a man happy; and I take the liberty of 
calling on you all, in point of fact, to congratulate both my 
friend Dombey and my lovely and accomplished relative, on 
the present occasion. 11 

The speech of Cousin Feenix is received with great 
applause, and Mr. Dombey returns thanks on behalf of 
himself and Mrs. Dombey. J. B. shortly afterwards proposes 
Mrs. Skewton. The breakfast languishes when that is done, 
the violated hatchments are avenged, and Edith rises to 
assume her travelling dress. 

All the servants in the meantime, have been breakfasting 
below. Champagne has grown too common among them to 
be mentioned, and roast fowls, raised pies, and lobster-salad, 
have become mere drugs. The very tall young man has re 
covered his spirits, and again alludes to the exciseman. His 
comrade^ eye begins to emulate his own, and he, too, stares 
at objects without taking cognizance thereof. There is a 
general redness in the faces of the ladies ; in the face of Mrs. 



MR. TOWLINSON ON FOREIGNERS. 17 

Perch particularly, who is joyous and beaming, and lifted so 
far above the cares of life, that if she were asked just now 
to direct a wayfarer to Ball's Pond, where her own cares 
lodge, she would have some difficulty in recalling the way. 
Mr. Towlinson has proposed the happy pair; to which the 
silver-headed butler has responded neatly, and with emotion ; 
for he half begins to think he is an old retainer of the family, 
and that he is bound to be affected by these changes. The 
whole party, and especially the ladies, are very frolicsome. 
Mr. Dombey's cook, who generally takes the lead in society, 
has said, it is impossible to settle down after this, and why 
not go, in a party, to the play? Everybody (Mrs. Perch 
included) has agreed to this : even the Native, who is tigerish 
in his drink, and who alarms the ladies (Mrs. Pcerh par 
ticularly) by the rolling of his eyes. One of the very tall 
young men has even proposed a ball after the play, and it 
presents itself to no one (Mrs. Perch included) in the light 
of an impossibility. Words have arisen between the house 
maid and Mr. Towlinson ; she, on the authority of an old 
saw, asserting marriages to be made in Heaven : he, affecting 
to trace the manufacture elsewhere; he, supposing that she 
says so, because she thinks of being married her own self: 
she, saying, Lord forbid, at any rate, that she should ever 
marry him. To calm these flying taunts, the silver-headed 
butler rises to propose the health of Mr. Towlinson, whom 
to know is to esteem, and to esteem is to wish well settled 
in life with the object of his choice, wherever (here the silver- 
headed butler eyes the housemaid) she may be. Mr. Towlin 
son returns thanks in a speech replete with feeling, of which 
the peroration turns on foreigners, regarding whom he says 
they may find favour, sometimes with weak and inconstant 
intellects that can be led away by hair, but all he hopes, is, 
he may never hear of no foreigner never boning nothing 
out of no travelling chariot. The eye of Mr. Towlinson 
is so severe and so expressive here, that the housemaid is 
turning hysterical, when she and all the rest, roused by the 

VOL. II. C 



18 DOMBEY AND SON. 

intelligence that the Bride is going away, hurry up stairs to 
witness her departure. 

The chariot is at the door; the Bride is descending to the 
hall, where Mr. Dombey waits for her. Florence is ready 
on the staircase to depart too ; and Miss Nipper, who has 
held a middle state between the parlour and the kitchen, 
is prepared to accompany her. As Edith appears, Florence 
hastens towards her, to bid her farewell. 

Is Edith cold, that she should tremble ! Is there anything 
unnatural or unwholesome in the touch of Florence, that the 
beautiful form recedes and contracts, as if it could not bear 
it ! Is there so much hurry in this going away, that Edith, 
with a wave of her hand, sweeps on, and is gone ! 

Mrs. Skewton, overpowered by her feelings as a mother, 
sinks on her sofa in the Cleopatra attitude, when the clatter 
of the chariot wheels is lost, and sheds several tears. The 
Major, coming with the rest of the company from table, 
endeavours to comfort her ; but she will not be comforted on 
any terms, and so the Major takes his leave. Cousin Feenix 
takes his leave, and Mr. Carker takes his leave. The guests 
all go away. Cleopatra, left alone, feels a little giddy from 
her strong emotion, and falls asleep. 

Giddiness prevails below stairs too. The very tall young- 
man whose excitement came on so soon, appears to have his 
head glued to the table in the pantry, and cannot be detached 
from it. A violent revulsion has taken place in the spirits 
of Mrs. Perch, who is low on account of Mr. Perch, and tells 
cook that she fears he is not so much attached to his home, 
as he used to be, when they were only nine in family. Mr. 
Towlinson has a singing in his ears and a large wheel going 
round and round inside his head. The housemaid wishes it 
wasn't wicked to wish that one was dead. 

There is a general delusion likewise, in these lower regions, 
on the subject of time; everybody conceiving that it ought 
to be, at the earliest, ten o'clock at night, whereas it is not 
yet three in the afternoon, A shadowy idea of wickedness 



END OF THE FESTIVITIES. 19 

committed, haunts every individual in the party; and each 
one secretly thinks the other a companion in guilt, whom it 
would be agreeable to avoid. No man or woman has the 
hardihood to hint at the projected visit to the play. Any 
one reviving the notion of the ball, would be scouted as a 
malignant idiot. 

Mrs. Skewton sleeps up stairs, two horn's afterwards, and 
naps are not yet over in the kitchen. The hatchments in 
the dining-room look down on crumbs, dirty plates, spillings 
of wine, half-thawed ice, stale discoloured heel-taps, scraps of 
lobster, drumsticks of fowls, and pensive jellies, gradually 
resolving themselves into a lukewarm gummy soup. The 
marriage is, by this time, almost as denuded of its show and 
garnish as the breakfast. Mr. Dombey's servants moralise 
so much about it, and are so repentant over their early tea, 
at home, that by eight o'clock or so, they settle down into 
confirmed seriousness ; and Mr. Perch, arriving at that time 
from the City, fresh and jocular, with a white waistcoat and 
a comic song, ready to spend the evening, and prepared for 
any amount of dissipation, is amazed to find himself coldly 
received, and Mrs. Perch but poorly, and to have the pleasing 
duty of escorting that lady home by the next omnibus. 

Night closes in. Florence having rambled through the 
handsome house, from room to room, seeks her own chamber, 
where the care of Edith has surrounded her with luxuries 
and comforts; and divesting herself of her handsome dress, 
puts on her old simple mourning for dear Paul, and sits 
down to read, with Diogenes winking and blinking on the 
ground beside her. But Florence cannot read to-night. The 
house seems strange and new, and there are loud echoes in it. 
There is a shadow on her heart : she knows not why or what : 
but it is heavy. Florence shuts her book, and gruff Diogenes, 
who takes that for a signal, puts his paws upon her lap, 
and nibs his ears against her caressing hands. But Florence 
cannot see him plainly, in a little time, for there is a mist 
between her eyes and him, and her dead brother and dead 



20 DOMBEY AND SON. 

mother shine in it like angels. Walter, too, poor wandering 
shipwrecked boy, oh, where is he! 

The Major don't know ; that's for certain ; and don't care. 
The Major, having choked and slumbered, all the afternoon, 
has taken a late dinner at his club, and now sits over his 
pint of wine, driving a modest young man, with a fresh- 
coloured face, at the next table (who would give a handsome 
sum to be able to rise and go away, but cannot do it) to 
the verge of madness, by anecdotes of Bagstock, Sir, at 
Dombey's wedding, and Old Joe's devilish gentlemanly friend, 
Lord Feenix. While Cousin Feenix, who ought to be at 
Long's, and in bed, finds himself, instead, at a gaming-table, 
where his wilful legs have taken him, perhaps, in his own 
despite. 

Night, like a giant, fills the church, from pavement to 
roof, and holds dominion through the silent hours. Pale 
dawn again comes peeping through the windows ; and, giving 
place to day, sees night withdraw into the vaults, and follows 
it, and drives it out, and hides among the dead. The timid 
mice again cower close together, when the great door clashes, 
and Mr. Sownds and Mrs. Miff, treading the circle of their 
daily lives, unbroken as a marriage ring, come in. Again, 
the cocked hat and the mortified bonnet stand in the back 
ground at the marriage hour; and again this man taketh 
this woman, and this woman taketh this man, on the solemn 
terms : 

" To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for 
worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love 
and to cherish, until death do them part." 

The very words that Mr. Carker rides into town repeating, 
with his mouth stretched to the utmost, as he picks his 
dainty wav. 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

THE WOODEX MIDSHIPMAN GOES TO PIECES. 

HONEST Captain Cuttle, as the weeks flew over him in his 
fortified retreat, by no means abated any of his prudent 
provisions against surprise, because of the non-appearance of 
the enemy. The Captain argued that his present security 
was too profound and wonderful to endure much longer ; 
he knew that when the wind stood in a fair quarter, the 
weathercock was seldom nailed there ; and he was too well 
acquainted with the determined and dauntless character of 
Mrs. MacStinger, to doubt that that heroic woman had 
devoted herself to the task of his discovery and capture. 
Trembling beneath the weight of these reasons, Captain 
Cuttle lived a very close and retired life; seldom stirring 
abroad until after dark ; venturing even then only into the 
obscurest streets : never going foi*th at all on Sundays ; and 
both within and without the walls of his retreat, avoiding 
bonnets, as if they were worn by raging lions. 

The Captain never dreamed that in the event of his being 
pounced upon by Mrs. MacStinger, in his walks, it would be 
possible to offer resistance. He felt that it could not be 
done. He saw himself, in his mind's eye, put meekly in a 
hackney-coach, and carried off to his old lodgings. He 
foresaw that, once immured there, he was a lost man : his 
hat gone; Mrs. MacStinger watchful of him day and night; 
reproaches heaped upon his head, before the infant family; 
himself the guilty object of suspicion and distrust ; an ogre 



22 DOMBEY AND SON. 

in the children's eyes, and in their mother's a detected 
traitor. 

A violent perspiration, and a lowness of spirits always 
came over the Captain as this gloomy picture presented 
itself to his imagination. It generally did so previous to his 
stealing out of doors at night for air and exercise. Sensible 
of the risk he ran, the Captain took leave of Rob, at those 
times, with the solemnity which became a man who might 
never return : exhorting him, in the event of his (the 
Captain's) being lost sight of, for a time, to tread in the 
paths of virtue, and keep the brazen instruments well 
polished. 

But not to throw away a chance ; and to secure to himself 
a means, in case of the worst, of holding communication 
with the external world ; Captain Cuttle soon conceived the 
happy idea of teaching Rob the Grinder some secret signal, 
by which that adherent might make his presence and fidelity 
known to his commander, in the hour of adversity. After 
much cogitation, the Captain decided in favour of instructing 
him to whistle the marine melody, " Oh cheerily, cheerily ! " 
and Rob the Grinder attaining a point as near perfection in 
that accomplishment as a landsman could hope to reach, the 
Captain impressed these mysterious instructions on his mind : 

" Now, my lad, stand by ! If ever I'm took ' 

" Took, Captain ! " interposed Rob, with his round eyes 
wide open. 

" Ah ! " said Captain Cuttle darkly, " if ever I goes away, 
meaning to come back to supper, and don't come within hail 
again twenty-four hours arter my loss, go you to Brig Place 
and whistle that 'ere tune near my old moorings not as if 
you was a meaning of it, you understand, but as if you'd 
drifted there, promiscuous. If I answer in that tune, you 
sheer off, my lad, and come back four-and-twenty hours 
arterwards ; if I answer in another tune, do you stand off 
and on, and wait till I throw out further signals. Do you 
understand them orders, now '; *' 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE'S PRECAUTIONS. 23 

" What am I to stand off and on of, Captain ? " inquired 
Rob. " The horse-road ? " 

" Here's a smart lad for you ! " cried the Captain, eyeing 
him sternly, "as don't know his own native alphabet! Go 
away a bit and come back again alternate d'ye understand 
that?" 

"Yes, Captain," said Rob. 

" Very good my lad, then," said the Captain, relenting. 
" Do it ! " 

That he might do it the better, Captain Cuttle sometimes 
condescended, of an evening after the shop was shut, to 
rehearse this scene : retiring into the parlour for the purpose, 
as into the lodgings of a supposititious MacStinger, and 
carefully observing the behaviour of his ally, from the hole 
of espial he had cut in the wall. Rob the Grinder dis 
charged himself of his duty with so much exactness and 
judgment, when thus put to the proof, that the Captain 
presented him, at divers times, with seven sixpences, in token 
of satisfaction ; and gradually felt stealing over his spirit 
the resignation of a man who had made provision for the 
worst, and taken every reasonable precaution against an un 
relenting fate. 

Nevertheless, the Captain did not tempt ill-fortune, by 
being a whit more venturesome than before. Though he 
considered it a point of good breeding in himself, as a 
general friend of the family, to attend Mr. Dombey's wedding 
(of which he had heard from Mr. Perch), and to show that 
gentleman a pleasant and approving countenance from the 
gallery, he had repaired to the church in a hackney cabriolet 
with both windows up; and might have scrupled even to 
make that venture, in his dread of Mrs. MacStinger, but 
that the lady's attendance on the ministry of the Reverend 
Melchisedech rendered it peculiarly unlikely that she would 
be found in communion with the Establishment. 

The Captain got safe home again, and fell into the 
ordinary routine of his new life, without encountering any 



24 DOMBEY AND SON. 

more direct alarm from the enemy, than was suggested to 
him by the daily bonnets in the street. But other subjects 
began to lay heavy on the Captain's mind. Walter's ship 
was still unheard of. No news came of old Sol Gills. 
Florence did not even know of the old man's disappearance, 
and Captain Cuttle had not the heart to tell her. Indeed 
the Captain, as his own hopes of the generous, handsome, 
gallant-hearted youth, whom he had loved, according to his 
rough manner, from a child, began to fade, and faded more 
and more from day to day, shrunk with instinctive pain 
from the thought of exchanging a word with Florence. If 
he had had good news to carry to her, the honest Captain 
would have braved the newly decorated house and splendid 
furniture though these, connected with the lady he had 
seen at church, were awful to him and made his way into 
her presence. With a dark horizon gathering around their 
common hopes, however, that darkened every hour, the 
Captain almost felt as if he were a new misfortune and 
affliction to her ; and was scarcely less afraid of a visit from 
Florence, than from Mrs. MacStinger herself. 

It was a chill dark autumn evening, and Captain Cuttle had 
ordered a fire to be kindled in the little back parlour, now 
more than ever like the cabin of a ship. The rain fell fast, 
and the wind blew hard ; and straying out on the house-top 
by that stormy bedroom of his old friend, to take an obser 
vation of the weather, the Captain's heart died within him, 
when he saw how wild and desolate it was. Not that he 
associated the weather of that time with poor Walter's 
destiny, or doubted that if Providence had doomed him to 
be lost and shipwrecked, it was over, long ago ; but that 
beneath an outward influence, quite distinct from the subject- 
matter of his thoughts, the Captain's spirits sank, and his 
hopes turned pale, as those of wiser men had often done 
before him, and will often do again. 

Captain Cuttle, addressing his face to the sharp wind and 
slanting rain, looked up at the heavy scud that was flying 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE GOES ALOFJT. 25 

fast over the wilderness of house-tops, and looked for sonic- 
thing cheery there in vain. The prospect near at hand was 
no better. In sundry tea-chests and other rough boxes at 
his feet, the pigeons of Rob the Grinder were cooing like 
so many dismal breezes getting up. A crazy weathercock 
of a midshipman, with a telescope at his eye, once visible 
from the street, but long bricked out, creaked and complained 
upon his rusty pivot as the shrill blast spun him round and 
round, and sported with him cruelly. Upon the Captain's 
coarse blue vest the cold rain-drops started like steel beads ; 
and he could hardly maintain himself aslant against the stiff 
Nor 1 - Wester that came pressing against him, importunate to 
topple him over the parapet, and throw him on the pavement 
below. If there were any Hope alive that evening, the 
Captain thought, as he held his hat on, it certainly kept 
house, and wasn't out of doors ; so the Captain, shaking his 
head in a despondent manner, went in to look for it. 

Captain Cuttle descended slowly to the little back parlour, 
and, seated in his accustomed chair, looked for it in the fire ; 
but it was not there, though the fire was bright. He took 
out his tobacco-box and pipe, and composing himself to 
smoke, looked for it in the red glow from the bowl, and in 
the wreaths of vapour that curled upward from his lips; but 
there was not so much as an atom of the rust of Hope's 
anchor in either. He tried a glass of grog; but melancholy 
truth was at the bottom of that well, and he couldn't finish 
it. He made a turn or two in the shop, and looked for 
Hope among the instruments ; but they obstinately worked 
out reckonings for the missing ship, in spite of any op 
position he could offer, that ended at the bottom of the 
lone sea. 

The wind still rushing, and the rain still pattering, against 
the closed shutters, the Captain brought to before the 
Wooden Midshipman upon the counter, and thought, as he 
dried the little officer's uniform with his sleeve, how many 
years the Midshipman had seen, during which few changes 



26 DOMBEY AND SON. 

hardly any had transpired among his ship's company; how 
the changes had come all together, one day, as it might be ; 
and of what a sweeping kind they were. Here was the little 
society of the back parlour broken up, and scattered far and 
wide. Here was no audience for Lovely Peg, even if there 
had been anybody to sing it, which there was not, for the 
Captain was as morally certain that nobody but he could 
execute that ballad, as he was that he had not the spirit? 
under existing circumstances, to attempt it. There was no 
bright face of " Wal'r " in the house ; here the Captain 
transferred his sleeve for a moment from the Midshipman's 
uniform to his own cheek ; the familiar wig and buttons of 
Sol Gills were a vision of the past; Richard Whittington 
was knocked on the head ; and every plan and project, in 
connexion with the Midshipman, lay drifting, without mast 
or rudder, on the waste of waters. 

As the Captain, with a dejected face, stood revolving these 
thoughts, and polishing the Midshipman, partly in the 
tenderness of old acquaintance, and partly in the absence 
of his mind, a knocking at the shop-door communicated a 
frightful start to the frame of Rob the Grinder, seated on 
the counter, whose large eyes had been intently fixed on the 
Captain's face, and who had been debating within himself, 
for the five hundredth time, whether the Captain could have 
done a murder, that he had such an evil conscience, and 
was always running away. 

" What's that ! " said Captain Cuttle, softly. 

" Somebody's knuckles, Captain," answered Rob the Grinder. 

The Captain, Avith an abashed and guilty air, immediately 
sneaked on tiptoe to the little parlour and locked himself in. 
Rob, opening the door, would have parleyed with the visitor 
on the threshold if the visitor had come in female guise ; but 
the figure being of the male sex, and Rob's orders only 
applying to women, Rob held the door open and allowed it 
to enter: which it did very quickly, glad to get out of the 
driving rain. 



MR. TOOTS INTRODUCES HIMSELF. 27 

" A job for Burgess and Co. at any rate," said the visitor, 
looking over his shoulder compassionately at his own legs, 
which were very wet and covered with splashes. " Oh, how- 
de-do, Mr. Gills?" 

The salutation was addressed to the Captain, now emerging 
from the back parlour with a most transparent and utterly 
futile affectation of coming out by accident. 

" Thankee," the gentleman went on to say in the same 
breath; "I'm very well indeed, myself, I'm much obliged to 
you. My name is Toots, Mister Toots." 

The Captain remembered to have seen this young gentleman 
at the wedding, and made him a bow. Mr. Toots replied 
with a chuckle ; and being embarrassed, as he generally was, 
breathed hard, shook hands with the Captain for a long 
time, and then falling on Rob the Grinder, in the absence 
of any other resource, shook hands with him in a most 
affectionate and cordial manner. 

"I say; I should like to speak a word to you, Mr. Gills, 
if you please," said Toots at length, with surprising presence 
of mind. " I say ! Miss D. O. M. you know ! " 

The Captain, with responsive gravity and mystery, imme 
diately waved his hook towards the little parlour, whither 
Mr. Toots followed him. 

" Oh ! I beg your pardon though," said Mr. Toots, looking 
up in the Captain's face as he sat down in a chair by the 
fire, which the Captain placed for him ; " you don't happen 
to know the Chicken at all; do you, Mr. Gills?" 

"The Chicken?" said the Captain. 

" The Game Chicken," said Mr. Toots. 

The Captain shaking his head, Mr. Toots explained that 
the man alluded to was the celebrated public character who 
had covered himself and his country with glory in his contest 
with the Nobby Shropshire One ; but this piece of information 
did not appear to enlighten the Captain very much. 

"Because he's outside: that's all," said Mr. Toots. "But 
it's of no consequence ; he won't get very wet, perhaps." 



28 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"I can pass the word for him in a moment," said the 
Captain. 

" Well, if you would have the goodness to let him sit in 
the shop with your young man," chuckled Mr. Toots, "I 
should be glad; because, you know, he's easily offended, and 
the damp's rather bad for his stamina. F\\ call him in, 
Mr. Gills.' 1 

With that, Mr. Toots repairing to the shop-door, sent a 
peculiar whistle into the night, which produced a stoical 
gentleman in a shaggy white great-coat and a flat-brimmed 
hat, with very short hair, a broken nose, and a considerable 
tract of bare and sterile country behind each ear. 

"Sit down, Chicken," said Mr. Toots. 

The compliant Chicken spat out some small pieces of straw 
on which he was regaling himself, and took in a fresh supply 
from a reserve he carried in his hand. 

" There an't no drain of nothing short handy, is there ? " 
said the Chicken, generally. "This here sluicing night is 
hard lines to a man as lives on his condition." 

Captain Cuttle proffered a glass of rum, which the Chicken, 
throwing back his head, emptied into himself, as into a cask, 
after proposing the brief sentiment, " Towards us ! " Mr. 
Toots and the Captain returning then to the parlour, and 
taking their seats before the fire, Mr. Toots began : 

"Mr. Gills 1 ' 

"Awast!'' said the Captain. "My name's Cuttle." 

Mr. Toots looked greatly disconcerted, while the Captain 
proceeded gravely. 

"Cap'en Cuttle is my name, and England is my nation, 
this here is my dwelling-place, and blessed be creation Job," 
said the Captain, as an index to his authority. 

"Oh! I couldn't see Mr. Gills, could I?" said Mr. Toots; 
" because " 

"If you could see Sol Gills, young genTm'n," said the 
Captain, impressively, and laying his heavy hand on Mr. 
Toots's knee, "old Sol, mind you with your own eyes as 



CHARTERED BY AN ANGEL. 29 

you sit there you'd be welcomer to me, than a wind astarn, 
to a ship becalmed. But you can't see Sol Gills. And why 
can't you see Sol Gills?" said the Captain, apprised by the 
face of Mr. Toots that he was making a profound impression 
on that gentleman's mind. " Because he's inwisible." 

Mr. Toots in his agitation was going to reply that it was 
of no consequence at all. But he corrected himself, and said, 
" Lor bless me ! " 

"That there man," said the Captain, "has left me in 
charge here by a piece of writing, but though he was a'most 
as good as my sworn brother, I know no more where he's gone, 
or why he's gone ; if so be to seek his nevy, or if so be along 
of being not quite settled in his mind ; than you do. One 
morning at daybreak, he went over the side," said the Captain, 
" without a splash, without a ripple. I have looked for that 
man high and low, and never set eyes, nor ears, nor nothing 
else, upon him, from that hour." 

"But, good Gracious, Miss Dombey don't know " Mr. 
Toots began. 

"Why, I ask you, as a feeling heart," said the Captain, 
dropping his voice, " why should she know ? why should she 
be made to know, until such time as there warn't any help 
for it? She took to old Sol Gills, did that sweet creetur, 
with a kindness, with a affability, with a what's the good 
of saying so ? you know her." 

"I should hope so," chuckled Mr. Toots, with a conscious 
blush that suffused his whole countenance. 

"And you come here from her?" said the Captain. 

" I should think so," chuckled Mr. Toots. 

"Then all I need observe, is," said the Captain, "that 
you know a angel, and are chartered by a angel." 

Mr. Toots instantly seized the Captain's hand, and requested 
the favour of his friendship. 

"Upon my word and honour," said Mr. Toots, earnestly, 
" I should be very much obliged to you if you'd improve 
my acquaintance. I should like to know you, Captain, very 



30 DOMBEY AND SON. 

much. I really am in want of a friend, I am. Little 
Dombey was my friend at old Blimber's, and would have 
been now, if he'd have lived. The Chicken,"" said Mr. Toots, 
in a forlorn whisper, "is very well admirable in his way 
the sharpest man perhaps in the world ; there's not a move 
he isn't up to, everybody says so but I don't know he's 
not everything. So she is an angel, Captain. If there is 
an angel anywhere, it's Miss Dombey. That's what I've 
always said. Really though, you know," said Mr. Toots, "I 
should be very much obliged to you if you'd cultivate my 
acquaintance." 

Captain Cuttle received this proposal in a polite manner, 
but still without committing himself to its acceptance ; merely 
observing, "Aye, aye, my lad. We shall see, we shall see;" 
and reminding Mr. Toots of his immediate mission, by in 
quiring to what he was indebted for the honour of that 
visit 

"Why the fact is," replied Mr. Toots, "that it's the 
young woman I come from. Not Miss Dombey Susan, you 
know." 

The Captain nodded his head once, with a grave expression 
of face, indicative of his regarding that young woman with 
serious respect. 

" And I'll tell you how it happens," said Mr. Toots. " You 
know, I go and call sometimes, on Miss Dombey. I don't 
go there on purpose, you know, but I happen to be in the 
neighbourhood very often ; and when I find myself there, 
why why I call." 

"Nat'rally," observed the Captain. 

"Yes," said Mr. Toots. "I called this afternoon. Upon 
my word and honour, I don't think it's possible to form an 
idea of the angel Miss Dombey was this afternoon." 

The Captain answered with a jerk of his head, implying 
that it might not be easy to some people, but was quite so 
to him. 

"As I was coming out," said Mr. Toots, "the young 



MR. TOOTS PRODUCES A NEWSPAPER. iil 

woman, in the most unexpected manner, took me into the 
pantry."" 

The Captain seemed, for the moment, to object to this 
proceeding : and leaning back in his chair, looked at Mr. 
Toots with a distrustful, if not threatening visage. 

" Where she brought out," said Mr. Toots, " this newspaper. 
She told me that she had kept it from Miss Dombey all day, 
on account of something that was in it, about somebody 
that she and Dombey used to know; and then she read the 
passage to me. Very well. Then she said wait a minute ; 
what was it she said, though ! " 

Mr. Toots, endeavouring to concentrate his mental powers 
on this question, unintentionally fixed the Captain's eye, and 
was so much discomposed by its stern expression, that his 
difficulty in resuming the thread of his subject was enhanced 
to a painful extent. 

" Oh ! " said Mr. Toots after long consideration. " Oh, 
ah ! Yes ! She said that she hoped there was a bare 
possibility that it mightn't be true ; and that as she couldn't 
very well come out herself, without surprising Miss Dombey, 
would I go down to Mr. Solomon Gills the Instrument-maker's 
in this street, who was the party's uncle, and ask whether he 
believed it was true, or had heard anything else in the City. 
She said, if he couldn't speak to me, no doubt Captain Cuttle 
could. By the bye ! " said Mr. Toots, as the discovery flashed 
upon him, " you, you know ! " 

The Captain glanced at the newspaper in Mr. Toots's hand, 
and breathed short and hurriedly. 

"Well," pursued Mr. Toots, "the reason why I'm rather 
late is, because I went up as far as Finchley first, to get 
some uncommonly fine chickweed that grows there, for Miss 
Dombey's bird. But I came on here, directly afterwards. 
You've seen the paper, I suppose?" 

The Captain, who had become cautious of reading the 
news, lest he should find himself advertised at full length by 
Mrs. MacStinger, shook his head. 



32 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Shall I read the passage to you ? " inquired Mr. Toots. 

The Captain making a sign in the affirmative, Mr. Toots 
read as follows, from the Shipping Intelligence : 

" ' Southampton. The barque Defiance, Henry James, 
Commander, arrived in this port to-day, with a cargo of 
sugar, coffee, and rum, reports that being becalmed on the 
sixth day of her passage home from Jamaica, in" 1 in such 
and such a latitude, you know,"" said Mr. Toots, after making 
a feeble dash at the figures, and tumbling over them. 

"Aye ! " cried the Captain, striking his clenched hand on 
the table. " Heave a-head, my lad ! " 

" latitude," repeated Mr. Toots, with a startled glance 
at the Captain, " and longitude so-and-so, ' the look-out 
observed, half an hour before sunset, some fragments of a 
wreck, drifting at about the distance of a mile. The weather 
being clear, and the barque making no way, a boat was 
hoisted out, with orders to inspect the same, when they were 
found to consist of sundry large spars, and a part of the main 
rigging of an English brig, of about five hundred tons 
burden, together with a portion of the stern on which the 
words and letters " Son and H " were yet plainly legible. 
No vestige of any dead body was to be seen upon the float 
ing fragments. Log of the Defiance states, that a breeze 
springing up in the night, the wreck was seen no more. 
There can be no doubt that all surmises as to the fate of 
the missing vessel, the Son and Heir, port of London, bound 
for Barbadoes, are now set at rest for ever ; that she broke 
up in the last hurricane ; and that every soul on board 
perished. 1 " 

Captain Cuttle, like all mankind, little knew how much 
hope had survived within him under discouragement, until he 
felt its death-shock. During the reading of the paragraph, 
and for a minute or two afterwards, he sat with his gaze 
fixed on the modest Mr. Toots, like a man entranced; then, 
suddenly rising, and putting on his glazed hat, which, in his 
visitor's honour, he had laid upon the table, the Captain 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE HOVE DOWN. 33 

turned his back, and bent his head down on the little 
chimney-piece. 

" Oh, upon my word and honour," cried Mr. Toots, whose 
tender heart was moved by the Captain's unexpected distress, 
" this is a most wretched sort of affair this world is ! Some 
body's always dying, or going and doing something uncom 
fortable in it. I'm sure I never should have looked forward 
so much, to coming into my property, if I had known this. 
I never saw such a world. It's a great deal worse than 
Blimber's." 

Captain Cuttle, without altering his position, signed to 
Mr. Toots not to mind him; and presently turned round, 
with his glazed hat thrust back upon his ears, and his hand 
composing and smoothing his brown face. 

" Wal'r, my dear lad," said the Captain, " farewell ! Wal'r 
my child, my boy, and man, I loved you ! He warn't my 
flesh and blood," said the Captain, looking at the fire " I 
an't got none but something of what a father feels when 
he loses a son, I feel in losing Wal'r. For why ? " said the 
Captain. " Because it an't one loss, but a round dozen. 
Where's that there young schoolboy with the rosy face and 
curly hair, that used to be as merry in this here parlour, come 
round every week, as a piece of music ? Gone down with 
Wal'r. Where's that there fresh lad, that nothing couldn't 
tire nor put out, and that sparkled up and blushed so, when 
we joked him about Heart's Delight, that he was beautiful to 
look at ? Gone down with Wal'r. W T here's that there man's 
spirit, all afire, that wouldn't see the old man hove down for 
a minute, and cared nothing for itself? Gone down with 
Wal'r. It an't one Wal'r. There was a dozen Wal'rs that 
I know'd and loved, all holding round his neck when he 
went down, and they're a-holding round mine now ! " 

Mr. Toots sat silent : folding and refolding the newspaper 
as small as possible upon his knee. 

" And Sol Gills," said the Captain, gazing at the fire, " poor 
nevyless old Sol, A\ here are you got to ! you was left in charge 

VOL. II. D 



34 DOMBEY AND SON. 

of me ; his last words was, * Take care of my uncle ! ' What 
came over you, Sol, when you went and gave the go-bye to 
Ned Cuttle ; and what am I to put in my accounts that he's 
a looking down upon, respecting you ! Sol Gills, Sol Gills ! " 
said the Captain, shaking his head slowly, " catch sight 
of that there newspaper, away from home, with no one as 
know'd Wal'r by, to say a word ; and broadside to you broach, 
and down you pitch, head foremost ! " 

Drawing a heavy sigh, the Captain turned to Mr. Toots, 
and roused himself to a sustained consciousness of that 
gentleman's presence. 

"My lad,"" said the Captain, "you must tell the young 
woman honestly that this here fatal news is too correct. 
They don't romance, you see, on such pints. It's entered on 
the ship's log, and that's the truest book as a man can write. 
To-morrow morning," said the Captain, "Til step out and 
make inquiries ; but they'll lead to no good. They can't do 
it. If you'll give me a look-in in the forenoon, you shall 
know what I have heerd ; but tell the young woman from 
Cap'en Cuttle, that it's over. Over!" And the Captain, 
hooking off his glazed hat, pulled his handkerchief out of the 
crown, wiped his grizzled head despairingly, and tossed the 
handkerchief in again, with the indifference of deep dejection. 

" Oh ! I assure you," said Mr. Toots, " really I am dread 
fully sorry. Upon my word I am, though I wasn't acquainted 
with the party. Do you think Miss Dombey will be very 
much affected, Captain Gills I mean Mr. Cuttle ? " 

"Why, Lord love you," returned the Captain, with some 
thing of compassion for Mr. Toots's innocence. " When she 
warn't no higher than that, they were as fond of one another 
as two young doves." 

" Were they though ! " said Mr. Toots, with a considerably 
lengthened face. 

"They were made for one another," said the Captain, 
mournfully ; " but what signifies that now ! " 

" Upon my word and honour," cried Mr. Toots, blurting 



NOT A SELFISH AFFECTION. 35 

out his words through a singular combination of awkward 
chuckles and emotion, " I'm even more sorry than I was before. 
You know, Captain Gills, I I positively adore Miss Dombey ; 
I I am perfectly sore with loving her;" the burst with 
which this confession forced itself out of the unhappy Mr. 
Toots, bespoke the vehemence of his feelings ; " but what 
would be the good of my regarding her in this manner, if I 
wasn't truly sorry for her feeling pain, whatever was the cause 
of it. Mine an't a selfish affection, you know," said Mr. 
Toots, in the confidence engendered by his having been a 
witness of the Captain's tenderness. "It's the sort of thing 
with me, Captain Gills, that if I could be run over or or 
trampled upon or or thrown off a very high place or 
anything of that sort for Miss Dombey's sake, it would be 
the most delightful thing that could happen to me." 

All this, Mr. Toots said in a suppressed voice, to prevent 
its reaching the jealous ears of the Chicken, who objected to 
the softer emotions ; which effort of restraint, coupled with 
the intensity of his feelings, made him red to the tips of his 
ears, and caused him to present such an affecting spectacle 
of disinterested love to the eyes of Captain Cuttle, that the 
good Captain patted him consolingly on the back, and bade 
him cheer up. 

"Thankee, Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, "it's kind of 
you, in the midst of your own troubles, to say so. I'm very 
much obliged to you. As I said before, I really want a 
friend, and should be glad to have your acquaintance. 
Although I am very well off," said Mr. Toots, with energy, 
" you can't think what a miserable Beast I am. The hollow 
crowd, you know, when they see me with the Chicken, and 
characters of distinction like that, suppose me to be happy; 
but I'm wretched. I suffer for Miss Dombey, Captain Gills. 
I can't get through my meals ; I have no pleasure in my 
tailor; I often cry when I'm alone. I assure you it'll be a 
satisfaction to me to come back to-morrow, or to come back 
fifty times." 



36 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Mr. Toots, with these words, shook the Captain's hand ; 
and disguising such traces of his agitation as could be dis 
guised on so short a notice, before the Chicken's penetrating 
glance, rejoined that eminent gentleman in the shop. The 
Chicken, who was apt to be jealous of his ascendancy, eyed 
Captain Cuttle with anything but favour as he took leave of 
Mr. Toots ; but followed his patron without being otherwise 
demonstrative of his ill-will : leaving the Captain oppressed 
with sorrow; and Rob the Grinder elevated with joy, on 
account of having had the honour of staring for nearly half 
an hour at the conqueror of the Nobby Shropshire One. 

Long after Rob was fast asleep in his bed under the 
counter, the Captain sat looking at the fire ; and long after 
there was no fire to look at, the Captain sat gazing on the 
rusty bars, with unavailing thoughts of Walter and old 
Sol crowding through his mind. Retirement to the stormy 
chamber at the top of the house brought no rest with it ; 
and the Captain rose up in the morning, sorrowful and 
unrefreshed. 

As soon as the City offices were open, the Captain issued 
forth to the counting-house of Dombey and Son. But there 
was no opening of the Midshipman's windows that morning. 
Rob the Grinder, by the Captain's orders, left the shutters 
closed, and the house was as a house of death. 

It chanced that Mr. Carker was entering the office, as 
Captain Cuttle arrived at the door. Receiving the Manager's 
benison gravely and silently, Captain Cuttle made bold to 
accompany him into his own room. 

"Well, Captain Cuttle,"" said Mr. Carker, taking up his 
usual position before the fireplace, and keeping on his hat, 
"this is a bad business. 11 

" You have received the news as was in print yesterday, 
Sir ? " said the Captain. 

" Yes," said Mr. Carker, " we have received it ! It was 
accurately stated. The underwriters suffer a considerable 
loss. We are very sorry. No help ! Such is life ! " 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE IS UNEASY. 87 

Mr. Carker pared his nails delicately with a pen-knife, and 
smiled at the Captain, who was standing by the door looking 
at him. 

" I excessively regret poor Gay," said Carker, " and the 
crew. I understand there were some of our very best men 
among "em. It always happens so. Many men with families 
too. A comfort to reflect that poor Gay had no family, 
Captain Cuttle ! " 

The Captain stood rubbing his chin, and looking at the 
Manager. The Manager glanced at the unopened letters 
lying on his desk, and took up the newspaper. 

" Is there anything I can do for you, Captain Cuttle ? " he 
asked, looking off it, with a smiling and expressive glance at 
the door. 

" I wish you could set my mind at rest, Sir, on something 
it's uneasy about," returned the Captain. 

" Aye ! " exclaimed the Manager, " what's that ? Come, 
Captain Cuttle, I must trouble you to be quick, if you please. 
I am much engaged." 

"Lookee here, Sir," said the Captain, advancing a step. 
" Afore my friend Wal'r went on this here disastrous 
voyage " 

"Come, come, Captain Cuttle," interposed the smiling 
Manager, "don't talk about disastrous voyages in that way. 
We have nothing to do with disastrous voyages here, my 
good fellow. You must have begun very early on your day's 
allowance, Captain, if you don't remember that there are 
hazards in all voyages whether by sea or land. You are not 
made uneasy by the supposition that young whatVhis-name 
was lost in bad weather that was got up against him in these 
offices are you ? Fie, Captain ! Sleep, and soda-water, are 
the best cures for such uneasiness as that." 

"My lad," returned the Captain, slowly "you are almost 
a lad to me, and so I don't ask your pardon for that slip of 
a word, if you find any pleasure in this here sport, you an't 
the gentleman I took you for, and if you an't the gentleman 



38 DOMBEY AND SON. 

I took you for, may be my mind has call to be uneasy. Now 
this is what it is, Mr. Carker. Afore that poor lad went 
away, according to orders, he told me that he warn't a going 
away for his own good, or for promotion, he know'd. It was 
my belief that he was wrong, and I told him so, and I come 
here, your head governor being absent, to ask a question or 
two of you in a civil way, for my own satisfaction. Them 
questions you answered free. Now it'll ease my mind to 
know, when all is over, as it is, and when what can't be cured 
must be endoored for which, as a scholar, you'll overhaul 
the book it's in, and thereof make a note to know once 
more, in a word, that I warn't mistaken ; that I warn't 
back'ard in my duty when I didn't tell the old man what 
Wal'r told me ; and that the wind was truly in his sail, when 
he highsted of it for Barbadoes Harbour. Mr. Carker," said 
the Captain, in the goodness of his nature, " when I was here 
last, we was very pleasant together. If I ain't been altogether 
so pleasant myself this morning, on account of this poor lad, 
and if I have chafed again any observation of yours that I 
might have fended off', my name is Ed'ard Cuttle, and I ask 
your pardon." 

" Captain Cuttle," returned the Manager, with all possible 
politeness, "I must ask you to do me a favour." 

"And what is it, Sir?" inquired the Captain. 

" To have the goodness to walk off, if you please," rejoined 
the Manager, stretching forth his arm, " and to carry your 
jargon somewhere else." 

Every knob in the Captain's face turned white with astonish 
ment and indignation ; even the red rim on his forehead faded, 
like a rainbow among the gathering clouds. 

"I tell you what, Captain Cuttle," said the Manager, 
shaking his forefinger at him, and showing him all his teeth, 
but still amiably smiling, "I was much too lenient with you 
when you came here before. You belong to an artful and 
audacious set of people. In my desire to save young what's- 
his-name from being kicked out of this place, neck and crop. 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE IS TAKEN ABACK. 39 

my good Captain, I tolerated you; but for once, and only 
once. Now, go, my friend ! " 

The Captain was absolutely rooted to the ground, and 
speechless. 

"Go," said the good-humoured Manager, gathering up his 
skirts, and standing astride upon the hearth-rug, "like a 
sensible fellow, and let us have no turning out, or any such 
violent measures. If Mr. Dombey were here, Captain, you 
might be obliged to leave in a more ignominious manner, 
possibly. I merely say, Go ! " 

The Captain, laying his ponderous hand upon his chest, to 
assist himself in fetching a deep breath, looked at Mr. Carker 
from head to foot, and looked round the little room, as if he 
did not clearly understand where he was, or in what company. 

"You are deep, Captain Cuttle," pursued Carker, with the 
easy and vivacious frankness of a man of the world who knew 
the world too well to be ruffled by any discovery of misdoing, 
when it did not immediately concern himself; "but you are 
not quite out of soundings, either neither you nor your 
absent friend, Captain. What have you done with your 
absent friend, hey?" 

Again the Captain laid his hand upon his chest. After 
drawing another deep breath, he conjured himself to "stand 
by ! " But in a whisper. 

"You hatch nice little plots, and hold nice little councils, 
and make nice little appointments, and receive nice little 
visitors, too, Captain, hey?" said Carker, bending his brows 
upon him, without showing his teeth any the less : " but it's 
a bold measure to come here afterwards. Not like your dis 
cretion ! You conspirators, and hiders, and runners-away, 
should know better than that. Will you oblige me by 
going?" 

"My lad," gasped the Captain, in a choked and trembling 
voice, and with a curious action going on in the ponderous 
fist; "there's a many words I could wish to say to you, but 
I don't rightly know where they're stowed just at present. 



40 DOMBEY AND SON. 

My young friend, WaTr, was drownded only last night, 
according to my reckoning, and it puts me out, you see. 
But you and me will come alongside o' one another again, 
my lad, v said the Captain, holding up his hook, " if we live." 

" It will be anything but shrewd in you, my good fellow, 
if we do,"" returned the Manager, with the same frankness ; 
" for you may rely, I give you fair warning, upon my detect 
ing and exposing you. I don't pretend to be a more moral 
man than my neighbours, my good Captain ; but the con 
fidence of this house, or of any member of this house, is not 
to be abused and undermined while I have eyes and ears. 
Good day ! " said Mr. Carker, nodding his head. 

Captain Cuttle, looking at him steadily (Mr. Carker looked 
full as steadily at the Captain), went out of the office and 
left him standing astride before the fire, as calm and pleasant 
as if there were no more spots upon his soul than on his pure 
white linen, and his smooth sleek skin. 

The Captain glanced, in passing through the outer counting- 
house, at the desk where he knew poor Walter had been used 
to sit, now occupied by another young boy, with a face 
almost as fresh and hopeful as his on the day when they 
tapped the famous last bottle but one of the old Madeira, 
in the little back parlour. The association of ideas, thus 
awakened, did the Captain a great deal of good ; it softened 
him in the very height of his anger, and brought the tears 
into his eyes. 

Arrived at the Wooden Midshipman's again, and sitting 
down in a corner of the dark shop, the Captain's indignation, 
strong as it was, could make no head against his grief. 
Passion seemed not only to do wrong and violence to the 
memory of the dead, but to be infected by death, and to 
droop and decline beside it. All the living knaves and liars 
in the world, were nothing to the honesty and truth of one 
dead friend. 

The only thing the honest Captain made out clearly, in 
this state of mind, besides the loss of Walter was, that with 



TOTAL LOSS OF THE LOVELY PEG. 41 

him almost the whole world of Captain Cuttle had been 
drowned. If he reproached himself sometimes, and keenly 
too, for having ever connived at Walter's innocent deceit, he 
thought at least as often of the Mr. Carker whom no sea 
could ever render up; and the Mr. Dombey, whom he now 
began to perceive was as far beyond human recall ; and the 
" Heart's Delight," with whom he must never foregather 
again ; and the Lovely Peg, that teak-built and trim ballad, 
that had gone ashore upon a rock, and split into mere planks 
and beams of rhyme. The Captain sat in the dark shop, 
thinking of these things, to the entire exclusion of his own 
injury ; and looking with as sad an eye upon the ground, as 
if in contemplation of their actual fragments as they floated 
past him. 

But the Captain was not unmindful, for all that, of such 
decent and respectful observances in memory of poor Walter, 
as he felt within his power. Rousing himself, and rousing 
Rob the Grinder (who in the unnatural twilight was fast 
asleep), the Captain sallied forth with his attendant at his 
heels, and the door-key in his pocket, and repairing to one 
of those convenient slop-selling establishments of which there 
is abundant choice at the eastern end of London, purchased 
on the spot two suits of mourning one for Rob the Grinder, 
which was immensely too small, and one for himself, which 
was immensely too large. He also provided Rob with a 
species of hat, greatly to be admired for its symmetry and 
usefulness, as well as for a happy blending of the mariner 
with the coal-heaver ; which is usually termed a sou'wester ; 
and which was something of a novelty in connexion with the 
instrument business. In their several garments, which the 
vendor declared to be such a miracle in point of fit as 
nothing but a rare combination of fortuitous circumstances 
ever brought about, and the fashion of which was unparalleled 
within the memory of the oldest inhabitant, the Captain and 
Grinder immediately arrayed themselves : presenting a spec 
tacle fraught with wonder to all who beheld it. 



42 DOMBEY AND SON. 

In this altered form, the Captain received Mr. Toots. 
"I'm took aback, my lad, at present," said the Captain, 
"and will only confirm that there ill news. Tell the young 
woman to break it gentle to the young lady, and for neither 
of ""em never to think of me no more 'special, mind you, 
that is though I will think of them, when night conies on 
a hurricane and seas is mountains rowling, for which over 
haul your Doctor Watts, brother, and when found make a 
note on." 

The Captain reserved, until some fitter time, the considera 
tion of Mr. Toots's offer of friendship, and thus dismissed 
him. Captain Cuttle's spirits were so low, in truth, that he 
half determined, that day, to take no further precautions 
against surprise from Mrs. MacStinger, but to abandon him 
self recklessly to chance, and be indifferent to what might 
happen. As evening came on, he fell into a better frame 
of mind, however; and spoke much of Walter to Rob the 
Grinder, whose attention and fidelity he likewise incidentally 
commended. Rob did not blush to hear the Captain earnest 
in his praises, but sat staring at him, and affecting to snivel 
with sympathy, and making a feint of being virtuous, and 
treasuring up every word he said (like a young spy as he 
was) with very promising deceit. 

When Rob had turned in, and was fast asleep, the Captain 
trimmed the candle, put on his spectacles he had felt it 
appropriate to take to spectacles on entering into the Instru 
ment Trade, though his eyes were like a hawk's and opened 
the prayer-book at the Burial Service. And reading softly 
to himself, in the little back parlour, and stopping now and 
then to wipe his eyes, the Captain, in a true and simple 
spirit, committed Walter's body to the deep. 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

CONTRASTS. 

TURN we our eyes upon two homes; not lying side by side, 
but wide apart, though both within easy range and reach of 
the great city of London. 

The first is situated in the green and wooded country near 
Norwood. It is not a mansion; it is of no pretensions as 
to size; but it is beautifully arranged, and tastefully kept. 
The lawn, the soft, smooth slope, the flower-garden, the 
clumps of trees where graceful forms of ash and willow are 
not wanting, the conservatory, the rustic verandah with sweet- 
smelling creeping plants entwined about the pillars, the simple 
exterior of the house, the well-ordered offices, though all upon 
the diminutive scale proper to a mere cottage, bespeak an 
amount of elegant comfort within, that might serve for a 
palace. This indication is not without warrant; for within 
it is a house of refinement and luxury. Rich colours, excel 
lently blended, meet the eye at every turn; in the furniture 
its proportions admirably devised to suit the shapes and 
sizes of the small rooms ; on the walls ; upon the floors ; 
tinging and subduing the light that comes in through the 
odd glass doors and windows here and there. There are a 
few choice prints and pictures too; in quaint nooks and 
recesses there is no want of books ; and there are games of 
skill and chance set forth on tables fantastic chess-men, dice, 
back-gammon, cards, and billiards. 



44 DOMBEY AND SON. 

And yet amidst this opulence of comfort, there is some 
thing in the general air that is not well. Is it that the carpets 
and the cushions are too soft and noiseless, so that those who 
move or repose among them seem to act by stealth ? Is it 
that the prints and pictures do not commemorate great 
thoughts or deeds, or render nature in the poetry of landscape, 
hall, or hut, but are of one voluptuous cast mere shows of 
form and colour and no more ? Is it that the books have 
all their gold outside, and that the titles of the greater part 
qualify them to be companions of the prints and pictures? 
Is it that the completeness and the beauty of the place are 
here and there belied by an affectation of humility, in some 
unimportant and inexpensive regard, which is as false as the 
face of the too truly painted portrait hanging yonder, or its 
original at breakfast in his easy chair below it ? Or is it 
that, with the daily breath of that original and master of all 
here, there issues forth some subtle portion of himself, which 
gives a vague expression of himself to everything about him ? 

It is Mr. Carker the Manager who sits in the easy chair. 
A gaudy parrot in a burnished cage upon the table tears at 
the wires with her beak, and goes walking, upside down, in 
its dome-top, shaking her house and screeching ; but Mr. 
Carker is indifferent to the bird, and looks with a musing 
smile at a picture on the opposite wall. 

"A most extraordinary accidental likeness, certainly, 1 ' 
says he. 

Perhaps it is a Juno ; perhaps a Potiphar's Wife ; perhaps 
some scornful Nymph according as the Picture Dealers found 
the market, when they christened it. It is the figure of a 
woman, supremely handsome, who, turning away, but with 
her face addressed to the spectator, flashes her proud glance 
upon him. 

It is like Edith. 

With a passing gesture of his hand at the picture what ! 
a menace? No; yet something like it. A wave as of 
triumph ? No ; yet more like that. An insolent salute 



MR. CAREER AND HIS BROTHER'S SISTER. 45 

wafted from his lips ? No ; yet like that too he resumes his 
breakfast, and calls to the chafing and imprisoned bird, who 
coming down into a pendant gilded hoop within the cage, 
like a great wedding-ring, swings in it, for his delight. 

The second home is on the other side of London, near to 
where the busy great north road of bygone days is silent 
and almost deserted, except by wayfarers who toil along on 
foot. It is a poor, small house, barely and sparely furnished, 
but very clean ; and there is even an attempt to decorate it, 
shown in the homely flowers trained about the porch and in 
the narrow garden. The neighbourhood in which it stands 
has as little of the country to recommend it, as it has of the 
town. It is neither of the town nor country. The former, 
like the giant in his travelling boots, has made a stride and 
passed it, and has set his brick-and-mortar heel a long way 
in advance; but the intermediate space between the giant's 
feet, as yet, is only blighted country, and not town ; and, 
here, among a few tall chimneys belching smoke all day and 
night, and among the brick-fields and the lanes where turf is 
cut, and where the fences tumble down, and where the dusty 
nettles grow, and where a scrap or two of hedge may yet be 
seen, and where the bird-catcher still comes occasionally, 
though he swears every time to come no more this second 
home is to be found. 

She who inhabits it, is she who left the first in her devotion 
to an outcast brother. She withdrew from that home its 
redeeming spirit, and from its master's breast his solitary 
angel : but though his liking for her is gone, after this un 
grateful slight as he considers it; and though he abandons 
her altogether in return, an old idea of her is not quite for 
gotten even by him. Let her flower-garden, in which he 
never sets his foot, but which is yet maintained, among all 
his costly alterations, as if she had quitted it but yesterday, 
bear witness ! 

Harriet Carker has changed since then, and on her beauty 
there has fallen a heavier shade than Time of his unassisted 



46 DOMBEY AND SON. 

self can cast, all-potent as he is the shadow of anxiety and 
sorrow, and the daily struggle of a poor existence. But it is 
beauty still ; and still a gentle, quiet, and retiring beauty 
that must be sought out, for it cannot vaunt itself; if it 
could, it would be what it is, no more. 

Yes. This slight, small, patient figure, neatly dressed in 
homely stuffs, and indicating nothing but the dull, household 
virtues, that have so little in common with the received idea 
of heroism and greatness, unless, indeed, any ray of them 
should shine through the lives of the great ones of the earth, 
when it becomes a constellation and is tracked in Heaven 
straightway this slight, small, patient figure, leaning on the 
man still young but worn and grey, is she, his sister, who, of 
all the world, went over to him in his shame and put her 
hand in his, and with a sweet composure and determination, 
led him hopefully upon his barren way. 

"It is early, John, 1 ' she said. "Why do you go so early ?" 
" Not many minutes earlier than usual, Harriet. If I have 
the time to spare, I should like, I think it's a fancy to 
walk once by the house where I took leave of him." 
"I wish I had ever seen or known him, John." 
" It is better as it is, my dear, remembering his fate." 
" But I could not regret it more, though I had known him. 
Is not your sorrow mine ? And if I had, perhaps you would 
feel that I was a better companion to you in speaking about 
him, than I may seem now." 

" My dearest sister ! Is there anything within the range 
of rejoicing or regret, in which I am not sure of your 
companionship ? " 

" I hope you think not, John, for surely there is nothing ! " 

" How could you be better to me, or nearer to me then, 

than you are in this, or anything ? " said her brother. " I 

feel that you did know him, Harriet, and that you shared 

my feelings towards him." 

She drew the hand which had been resting on his shoulder, 
round his neck, and answered, with some hesitation : 



A NOBLE SACRIFICE. 47 

"No, not quite. 1 ' 

" True, true ! " he said ; "you think I might have done him 
no harm if I had allowed myself to know him better P 11 

Think ! I know it" 

"Designedly, Heaven knows I would not, 11 he replied, 
shaking his head mournfully ; " but his reputation was too 
precious to be perilled by such association. Whether you 
share that knowledge, or do not, my dear " 

"I do not, 11 she said quietly. 

" It is still the truth, Harriet, and my mind is lighter when 
I think of him for that which made it so much heavier then. 11 
He checked himself in his tone of melancholy, and smiled 
upon her as he said "Good-bye! 11 

" Good-bye, dear John ! In the evening, at the old time 
and place, I shall meet you as usual on your way home. 
Good-bye. 11 

The cordial face she lifted up to his to kiss him, was his 
home, his life, his universe, and yet it was a portion of his 
punishment and grief; for in the cloud he saw upon it 
though serene and calm as any radiant cloud at sunset and 
in the constancy and devotion of her life, and in the sacrifice 
she had made of ease, enjoyment, and hope, he saw the bitter 
fruits of his old crime, for ever ripe and fresh. 

She stood at the door looking after him, with her hands 
loosely clasped in each other, as he made his way over the 
frowzy and uneven patch of ground which lay before their 
house, which had once (and not long ago) been a pleasant 
meadow, and was now a very waste, with a disorderly crop 
of beginnings of mean houses, rising out of the rubbish, as if 
they had been unskilfully sown there. Whenever he looked 
back as once or twice he did her cordial face shone like 
a light upon his heart; but when he plodded on his way, 
and saw her not, the tears were in her eyes as she stood 
watching him. 

Her pensive form was not long idle at the door. There 
was daily duty to discharge, and daily work to do for such 



4-8 DOMBEY ANI> SON. 

common-place spirits that are not heroic, often work hard 
with their hands and Harriet was soon busy with her house 
hold tasks. These discharged, and the poor house made 
quite neat and orderly, she counted her little stock of money, 
with an anxious face, and went out thoughtfully to buy 
some necessaries for their table, planning and contriving, as 
she went, how to save. So sordid are the lives of such low 
natures, who are not only not heroic to their valets and 
waiting-women, but have neither valets nor waiting-women 
to be heroic to withal ! 

While she was absent, and there was no one in the house, 
there approached it by a different way from that the brother 
had taken, a gentleman, a very little past his prime of life 
perhaps, but of a healthy florid hue, an upright presence, 
and a bright clear aspect, that was gracious and good- 
humoured. His eyebrows were still black, and so was much 
of his hair; the sprinkling of grey observable among the 
latter, graced the former very much, and showed his broad 
frank brow and honest eyes to great advantage. 

After knocking once at the door, and obtaining no response, 
this gentleman sat down on a bench in the little porch to 
wait. A certain skilful action of his fingers as he hummed 
some bars, and beat time on the seat beside him, seemed to 
denote the musician ; and the extraordinary satisfaction he 
derived from humming something very slow and long, which 
had no recognisable tune, seemed to denote that he was a 
scientific one. 

The gentleman was still twirling a theme, which seemed 
to go round and round and round, and in and in and in, 
and to involve itself like a corkscrew twirled upon a table, 
without getting any nearer to anything, when Harriet ap 
peared returning. He rose up as she advanced, and stood 
with his head uncovered. 

" You are come again, Sir ! " she said, faltering. 

"I take that liberty," he answered. "May I ask for five 
minutes of your leisure ? " 



HARRIET CAREER'S VISITOR. 49 

After a moment's hesitation, she opened the door, and 
gave him admission to the little parlour. The gentleman 
sat down there, drew his chair to the table over against 
her, and said, in a voice that perfectly corresponded to 
his appearance, and with a simplicity that was very en 
gaging : 

"Miss Harriet, you cannot be proud. You signified to 
me, when I called t'other morning, that you were. Pardon 
me if I say that I looked into your face while you spoke, 
and that it contradicted you. I look into it again," he added, 
laying his hand gently on her arm, for an instant, "and it 
contradicts you more and more. 11 

She was somewhat confused and agitated, and could make 
no ready answer. 

"It is the mirror of truth," said her visitor, "and gentle 
ness. Excuse my trusting to it, and returning.' 1 

His manner of saying these words, divested them entirely 
of the character of compliments. It was so plain, grave, 
unaffected, and sincere, that she bent her head, as if at once 
to thank him, and acknowledge his sincerity. 

"The disparity between our ages," said the gentleman, 
"and the plainness of my purpose, empower me, I am glad 
to think, to speak my mind. That is my mind ; and so you 
see me for the second time. 11 

"There is a kind of pride, Sir," she returned, after a 
moment's silence, "or what may be supposed to be pride, 
which is mere duty. I hope I cherish no other." 

" For yourself," he said. 

" For myself." 

"But pardon me " suggested the gentleman. "For 
your brother John ? " 

" Proud of his love, I am," said Harriet, looking full upon 
her visitor, and changing her manner on the instant not that 
it was less composed and quiet, but that there was a deep 
impassioned earnestness in it that made the very tremble in 
her voice a part of her firmness, "and proud of him. Sir, 

VOL. II, K 



50 DOMBEY AND SON. 

you who strangely know the story of his life, and repeated 
it to me when you were here last " 

" Merely to make my way into your confidence,"" interposed 
the gentleman. "For heaven's sake, don't suppose " 

"I am sure," she said, "you revived it, in my hearing, 
with a kind and good purpose. I am quite sure of it." 

"I thank you," returned her visitor, pressing her hand 
hastily. "I am much obliged to you. You do me justice, 
I assure you. You were going to say, that I, who know 
the story of John Carker's life " 

"May think it pride in me," she continued, "when I say 
that I am proud of him ! I am. You know the time was, 
when I was not when I could not be but that is past. 
The humility of many years, the uncomplaining expiation, 
the true repentance, the terrible regret, the pain I know he 
has even in my affection, which he thinks has cost me dear, 
though Heaven knows I am happy, but for his sorrow! 
oh, Sir, after what I have seen, let me conjure you, if you 
are in any place of power, and are ever wronged, never, for 
any wrong, inflict a punishment that cannot be recalled ; 
while there is a GOD above us to work changes in the hearts 
He made." 

" Your brother is an altered man," returned the gentleman, 
compassionately. "I assure you I don't doubt it." 

" He was an altered man when he did wrong," said Harriet. 
"He is an altered man again, and is his true self now, 
believe me, Sir." 

"But we go on," said her visitor, rubbing his forehead, 
in an absent manner, with his hand, and then drumming 
thoughtfully on the table, "we go on in our clock-work 
routine, from day to day, and can't make out, or follow, 
these changes. They they're a metaphysical sort of thing. 
We we haven't leisure for it. We we haven't courage. 
They're not taught at schools or colleges, and we don't know 
how to set about it. In short, we are so d d business 
like," said the gentleman, walking to the window, and back, 



ASSISTANCE OFFERED. 51 

and sitting down again, in a state of extreme dissatisfaction 
and vexation. 

"I am sure," said the gentleman, rubbing his forehead 
again; and drumming on the table as before, "I have good 
reason to believe that a jog-trot life, the same from day to 
day, would reconcile one to anything. One don't see any 
thing, one don't hear anything, one don't know anything; 
that's the fact. We go on taking everything for granted, and 
so we go on, until whatever we do, good, bad, or indifferent, 
we do from habit. Habit is all I shall have to report, when 
I am called upon to plead to my conscience, on my death 
bed. * Habit,' says I ; ' I was deaf, dumb, blind, and paralytic, 
to a million things, from habit.' 'Very business-like indeed, 
Mr. What's-your-name," 1 says Conscience, 'but it won't do 
here! 1 " 

The gentleman got up and walked to the window again 
and back : seriously uneasy, though giving his uneasiness 
this peculiar expression. 

"Miss Harriet," he said, resuming his chair, "I wish you 
would let me serve you. Look at me; I ought to look 
honest, for I know I am so, at present. Do I?" 

"Yes," she answered with a smile. 

" I believe every word you have said," he returned. " I am 
full of self-reproach that I might have known this and seen 
this, and known you and seen you, any time these do/en years, 
and that I never have. I hardly know how I ever got here 
creature that I am, not only of my own habit, but of other 
people's ! But having done so, let me do something. I ask 
it in all honour and respect. You inspire me with both, 
in the highest degree. Let me do something." 

"We are contented, Sir." 

"No, no, not quite," returned the gentleman. "I think 
not quite. There are some little comforts that might 
smooth your life, and his. And his ! " he repeated, fancying 
that had made some impression on her. "I have been in 
the habit of thinking that there was nothing wanting to be 



52 DOMBEV AND SON. 

done for him ; that it was all settled and over ; in short, of 
not thinking at all about it. I am different now. Let me 
do something for him. You too,"" said the visitor, with 
careful delicacy, "have need to watch your health closely, 
for his sake, and I fear it fails. 1 ' 

" Whoever you may be, Sir," answered Harriet, raising her 
eyes to his face, "I am deeply grateful to you. I feel 
certain that in all you say, you have no object in the world 
but kindness to us. But years have passed since we began 
this life ; and to take from my brother any part of what 
has so endeared him to me, and so proved his better resolu 
tion any fragment of the merit of his unassisted, obscure, 
and forgotten reparation would be to diminish the comfort 
it will be to him and me, when that time comes to each of 
us, of which you spoke just now. I thank you better with 
these tears than any words. Believe it, pray." 

The gentleman was moved, and put the hand she held out, 
to his lips, much as a tender father might kiss the hand of a 
dutiful child. But more reverently. 

" If the day should ever come," said Harriet, " when he is 
restored, in part, to the position he lost " 

" Restored ! " cried the gentleman, quickly. " How can 
that be hoped for ? In whose hands does the power of any 
restoration lie ? It is no mistake of mine, surely, to suppose 
that his having gained the priceless blessing of his life, is 
one cause of the animosity shown to him by his brother."" 

" You touch upon a subject that is never breathed between 
us; not even between us," said Harriet. 

" I beg your forgiveness," said the visitor. " I should have 
known it. I entreat you to forget that I have done so, in 
advertently. And now, as I dare urge no more as I am 
not sure that I have a right to do so though Heaven knows, 
even that doubt may be habit," said the gentleman, rubbing 
his head, as despondently as before, "let me; though a 
stranger, yet no stranger; ask two favours," 

" What are they ? " she inquired. 



TREATY MADE WITH THE VISITOR. 53 

"The first, that if you should see cause to change your 
resolution, you will suffer me to be as your right hand. Mv 
name shall then be at your service : it is useless now, and 
always insignificant." 

" Our choice of friends, 1 ' she answered, smiling faintly, " is 
not so great, that I need any time for consideration. I can 
promise that." 

" The second, that you will allow me sometimes, say every 
Monday morning, at nine o'clock habit again I must be 
business-like," said the gentleman, with a whimsical inclina 
tion to quarrel with himself on that head, "in walking past, 
to see you at the door or window. I don't ask to come in, 
as your brother will be gone out at that hour. I don't ask 
to speak to you. I merely ask to see, for the satisfaction of 
my own mind, that you are well, and without intrusion to 
remind you, by the sight of me, that you have a friend an 
elderly friend, grey-haired already, and fast growing greyer 
whom you may ever command." 

The cordial face looked up in his; confided in it; and 
promised. 

"I understand, as before," said the gentleman, rising, 
" that you purpose not to mention my visit to John Carker, 
lest he should be at all distressed by my acquaintance with 
his history. I am glad of it, for it is out of the ordinary 
course of things, and habit again ! " said the gentleman, 
checking himself impatiently, "as if there were no better 
course than the ordinary course ! " 

With that he turned to go, and walking, bare-headed, to 
the outside of the little porch, took leave of her with such 
a happy mixture of unconstrained respect and unaffected 
interest, as no breeding could have taught, no truth mistrusted, 
and nothing but a pure and single heart expressed. 

Many half-forgotten emotions were awakened in the sister's 
mind by this visit. It was so very long since any other 
visitor had crossed their threshold ; it was so very long since 
any voice of sympathy had made sad music in her ears ; that 



54 DOMBEY AND SON. 

the stranger's figure remained present to her, hours after 
wards, when she sat at the window, plying her needle; and 
his words seemed newly spoken, again and again. He had 
touched the spring that opened her whole life; and if she 
lost him for a short space, it was only among the many shapes 
of the one great recollection of which that life Avas made. 

Musing and working by turns ; now constraining herself 
to be steady at her needle for a long time together, and 
now letting her work fall, unregarded, on her lap, and 
straying wheresoever her busier thoughts led, Harriet Carker 
found the hours glide by her, and the day steal on. The 
morning, which had been bright and clear, gradually became 
overcast ; a sharp wind set in ; the rain fell heavily ; and a 
dark mist drooping over the distant town, hid it from the view. 

She often looked with compassion, at such a time, upon 
the stragglers who came wandering into London, by the 
great highway hard by, and who, footsore and weary, and 
gazing fearfully at the huge town before them, as if fore 
boding that their misery there would be but as a drop of 
water in the sea, or as a grain of sea-sand on the shore, 
Avent shrinking on, cowering before the angry weather, and 
looking as if the very elements rejected them. Day after 
day, such travellers crept past, but always, as she thought, 
in one direction always towards the town. Swallowed up 
in one phase or other of its immensity, towards which they 
seemed impelled by a desperate fascination, they never 
returned. Food for the hospitals, the churchyards, the 
prisons, the river, fever, madness, vice, and death, they 
passed on to the monster, roaring in the distance, and were 
lost. 

The chill wind was howling, and the rain was falling, and 
the day was darkening moodily, when Harriet, raising her 
eyes from the work on which she had long since been 
engaged with unremitting constancy, saw one of these 
travellers approaching. 

A woman. A solitary woman of some thirty years of age ; 



A SOLITARY TRAVELLER. 55 

tall ; well-formed ; handsome ; miserably dressed ; the soil of 
many country roads in varied weather dust, chalk, clay, 
gravel -clotted on her grey cloak by the streaming wet; no 
bonnet on her head, nothing to defend her rich black hair 
from the rain, but a torn handkerchief; with the fluttering 
ends of which, and with her hair, the wind blinded her so 
that she often stopped to push them back, and look upon 
the way she was going. 

She was in the act of doing so, when Harriet observed 
her. As her hands, parting on her sun-burnt forehead, 
swept across her face, and threw aside the hindrances that, 
encroached upon it, there was a reckless and regardless 
beauty in it: a dauntless and depraved indifference to more 
than weather : a carelessness of what was cast upon her bare 
head from Heaven or earth : that, coupled with her misery 
and loneliness, touched the heart of her fellow-woman. She 
thought of all that was perverted and debased within her, 
no less than without : of modest graces of the mind, hardened 
and steeled, like these attractions of the person ; of the many 
gifts of the Creator flung to the winds like the wild hair; 
of all the beautiful ruin upon which the storm was beating 
and the night was coming. 

Thinking of this, she did not turn away with a delicate 
indignation too many of her own compassionate and tender 
sex too often do but pitied her. 

Her fallen sister came on, looking far before her, trying 
with her eager eyes to pierce the mist in which the city was 
enshrouded, and glancing, now and then, from side to side, 
with the bewildered and uncertain aspect of a stranger. 
Though her tread was bold and courageous, she was fatigued, 
and after a moment of irresolution, sat down upon a heap of 
stones ; seeking no shelter from the rain, but letting it rain 
on her as it would. 

She was now opposite the house ; raising her head after 
resting it for a moment on both hands, her eyes met those 
of Harriet. 



56 DOMBEY AND SON. 

In a moment, Harriet was at the door : and the other, 
rising from her seat at her beck, came slowly, and with no 
conciliatory look, towards her. 

" Why do you rest in the rain ? " said Harriet, gently. 

" Because I have no other resting-place/' was the reply. 

" But there are many places of shelter near here. This,"" 
referring to the little porch, "is better than where you were. 
You are very welcome to rest here." 

The wanderer looked at her, in doubt and surprise, but 
without any expression of thankfulness; and sitting down, 
and taking off' one of her worn shoes to beat out the frag 
ments of stone and dust that were inside, showed that her 
foot was cut and bleeding. 

Harriet uttering an expression of pity, the traveller looked 
up with a contemptuous and incredulous smile. 

" Why, what's a torn foot to such as me ? " she said. 
" And what's a torn foot in such as me, to such as you ? " 

" Come in and wash it," answered Harriet, mildly, " and 
let me give you something to bind it up." 

The woman caught her arm, and drawing it before her own 
eyes, hid them against it, and wept. Not like a woman, but 
like a stern man surprised into that weakness ; with a violent 
heaving of her breast, and struggle for recovery, that showed 
how unusual the emotion was Avith her. 

She submitted to be led into the house, and, evidently 
more in gratitude than in any care for herself, washed and 
bound the injured place. Harriet then put before her frag 
ments of her own frugal dinner, and when she had eaten of 
them, though sparingly, besought her, before resuming her 
road (which she showed her anxiety to do), to dry her clothes 
before the fire. Again, more in gratitude than with any 
evidence of concern in her own behalf, she sat down in front 
of it, and unbinding the handkerchief about her head, and 
letting her thick wet hair fall down below her waist, sat 
drying it with the palms of her hands, and looking at the 
blaze. 



PITY FOR THE FALLEN. 57 

" I dare say you are thinking, 11 she said, lifting her head 
suddenly, " that I used to be handsome, once. I believe I 
was I know I was. Look here ! " 

She held up her hair roughly with both hands; seizing it 
as if she would have torn it out ; then, threw it down again, 
and flung it back as though it were a heap of serpents. 

" Are you a stranger in this place ? " asked Harriet. 

" A stranger ! " she returned, stopping between each short 
reply, and looking at the fire. " Yes. Ten or a dozen years 
a stranger. I have had no almanack where I have been. Ten 
or a dozen years. I don't know this part. It's much altered 
since I went away." 11 

" Have you been far ? " 

"Very far. Months upon months over the sea, and far 
away even then. I have been where convicts go," she added, 
looking full upon her entertainer. " I have been one myself." 

" Heaven help you and forgive you ! " was the gentle answer. 

" Ah ! Heaven help me and forgive me { " she returned, 
nodding her head at the fire. " If man would help some of 
us a little more, God would forgive us all the sooner perhaps. 1 ' 

But she was softened by the earnest manner, and the 
cordial face so full of mildness and so free from judgment, of 
her, and said, less hardily : 

" We may be about the same age, you and me. If I am 
older, it is not above a year or two. Oh think of that ! " 

She opened her arms, as though the exhibition of her out 
ward form would show the moral wretch she was ; and letting 
them drop at her sides, hung down her head. 

" There is nothing we may not hope to repair ; it is never 
too late to amend, 11 said Harriet. " You are penitent ' 

" No, 11 she answered. " I am not ! I can't be. I am no 
such thing. Why should / be penitent, and all the world go 
free ! They talk to me of my penitence. Who's penitent for 
the wrongs that have been done to me ! " 

She rose up, bound her handkerchief about her head, and 
turned to move awav. 



58 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Where are you going ? " said Harriet. 

" Yonder," she answered, pointing with her hand. " To 
London."" 

" Have you any home to go to ? " 

" I think I have a mother. She's as much a mother, as 
her dwelling is a home, 1 ' she answered with a bitter laugh. 

"'Take this," cried Harriet, putting money in her hand. 
" Try to do well. It is very little, but for one day it may 
keep you from harm." 

" Are you married ? " said the other, faintly, as she took it. 

" No. I live here with my brother. We have not much 
to spare, or I would give you more." 

" Will you let me kiss you ? " 

Seeing no scorn or repugnance in her face, the object of 
her charity bent over her as she asked the question, and 
pressed her lips against her cheek. Once more she caught 
her arm, and covered her eyes with it ; and then was gone. 

Gone into the deepening night, and howling wind, and 
pelting rain ; urging her way on towards the mist-enshrouded 
city where the blurred lights gleamed ; and with her black 
hair, and disordered head-gear, fluttering round her reckless 
face. 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

ANOTHER MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. 

IN an ugly and dark room, an old woman, ugly and dark too, 
sat listening to the wind and rain, and crouching over a 
meagre fire. More constant to the last-named occupation 
than the first, she never changed her attitude, unless, when 
any stray drops of rain fell hissing on the smouldering embers, 
to raise her head with an awakened attention to the whistling 
and pattering outside, and gradually to let it fall again lower 
and lower and lower as she sunk into a brooding state of 
thought, in which the noises of the night were as indistinctly 
regarded as is the monotonous rolling of a sea by one who 
sits in contemplation on its shore. 

There was no light in the room save that which the fire 
afforded. Glaring sullenly from time to time like the eye of 
a fierce beast half asleep, it revealed no objects that needed 
to be jealous of a better display. A heap of rags, a heap of 
bones, a wretched bed, two or three mutilated chairs or stools, 
the black walls and blacker ceiling, were all its winking bright 
ness shone upon. As the old woman, with a gigantic and 
distorted image of herself thrown half upon the wall behind 
her, half upon the roof above, sat bending over the few loose 
bricks within which it was pent, on the damp hearth of the 
chimney for there was no stove she looked as if she were 
watching at some witch's altar for a favourable token ; and 
but that the movement of her chattering jaws and trembling 



60 DOMBEY AND SON. 

chin was too frequent and too fast for the slow flickering of 
the fire, it would have seemed an illusion wrought by the 
light, as it came and went, upon a face as motionless as the 
form to which it belonged. 

If Florence could have stood within the room and looked 
upon the original of the shadow thrown upon the wall and 
roof, as it cowered thus over the fire, a glance might have 
sufficed to recall the figure of Good Mrs. Brown ; notwithstand 
ing that her childish recollection of that terrible old woman 
was as grotesque and exaggerated a presentment of the truth, 
perhaps, as the shadow on the wall. But Florence was not 
there to look on ; and Good Mrs. Brown remained unrecog 
nised, and sat staring at her fire, unobserved. 

Attracted by a louder sputtering than usual, as the rain 
came hissing down the chimney in a little stream, the old 
woman raised her head, impatiently, to listen afresh. And 
this time she did not drop it again ; for there was a hand 
upon the door, and a footstep in the room. 

" Who's that ? " she said, looking over her shoulder. 

" One who brings you news, 11 was the answer, in a woman's 
voice. 

"News? Where from?" 

"From abroad." 

"From beyond seas? 11 cried the old woman, starting up. 

"Aye, from beyond seas. 11 

The old woman raked the fire together, hurriedly, and going 
close to her visitor who had entered, and shut the door, and 
who now stood in the middle of the room, put her hand upon 
the drenched cloak, and turned the unresisting figure, so as 
to have it in the full light of the fire. She did not find what 
she had expected, whatever that might be; for she let the 
cloak go again, and uttered a querulous cry of disappointment 
and misery. 

"What is the matter? 11 asked her visitor. 

" Oho ! Oho ! " cried the old woman, turning her face 
upward, with a terrible howl. 



A FOND MOTHER. 61 

" What is the matter ? " asked the visitor again. 

" It's not my gal ! " cried the old woman, tossing up her 
arms, and clasping her hands above her head. " Where's my 
Alice ? Where's my handsome daughter ? They've been the 
death of her ! " 

" They've not been the death of her yet, if your name's 
Marwood," said the visitor. 

" Have you seen my gal, then ? " cried the old woman. 
" Has she wrote to me ? " 

" She said you couldn't read," returned the other. 

" No more I can ! " exclaimed the old woman, wringing- 
her hands. 

" Have you no light here r " said the other, looking round 
the room. 

The old woman, mumbling and shaking her head, and 
muttering to herself about her handsome daughter, brought 
a candle from a cupboard in the corner, and thrusting it into 
the fire with a trembling hand, lighted it with some difficulty 
and set it on the table. Its dirty wick burnt dimly at first, 
being choked in its own grease ; and when the bleared eyes 
and failing sight of the old woman could distinguish anything 
by its light, her visitor was sitting with her arms folded, her 
eyes turned downwards, and a handkerchief she had worn 
upon her head lying on the table by her side. 

" She sent to me by word of mouth then, my gal, Alice ? " 
mumbled the old woman, after waiting for some moments. 
"What did she say?" 

"Look," returned the visitor. 

The old woman repeated the word in a scared uncertain 
way ; and, shading her eyes, looked at the speaker, round the 
room, and at the speaker once again. 

" Alice said look again, mother ; " and the speaker fixed her 
eyes upon her. 

Again the old woman looked round the room, and at her 
visitor, and round the room once more. Hastily seizing the 
candle, and rising from her seat, she held it to the visitor's 



62 DOMBEY AND SON. 

face, uttered a loud cry, set down the light, and fell upon 
her neck ! 

" It's my gal ! It's my Alice ! It's my handsome daughter, 
living and come back ! " screamed the old woman, rocking 
herself to and fro upon the breast that coldly suffered 
her embrace. " It's my gal ! It's my Alice ! It's my hand 
some daughter, living and come back ! " she screamed again, 
dropping on the floor before her, clasping her knees, 
laying her head against them, and still rocking herself to 
and fro with every frantic demonstration of which her vitality 
was capable. 

"Yes, mother," returned Alice, stooping forward for a 
moment and kissing her, but endeavouring, even in the act, 
to disengage herself from her embrace. " I am here, at last. 
Let go, mother; let go. Get up, and sit in your chair. 
What good does this do?" 

"She's come back harder than she went ! " cried the mother, 
looking up in her face, and still holding to her knees. " She 
don't care for me ! after all these years, and all the wretched 
life I've led!" 

"Why, mother!" said Alice, shaking her ragged skirts to 
detach the old woman from them : " there are two sides to 
that. There have been years for me as well as you, and there 
has been wretchedness for me as well as you. Get up, get up !" 

Her mother rose, and cried, and wrung her hands, and 
stood at a little distance gazing on her. Then she took the 
candle again, and going round her, surveyed her from head 
to foot, making a low moaning all the time. Then she put 
the candle down, resumed her chair, and beating her hands 
together to a kind of weary tune, and rolling herself from 
side to side, continued moaning and wailing to herself. 

Alice got up, took off her wet cloak, and laid it aside. 
That done, she sat down as before, and with her arms folded, 
and her eyes gazing at the fire, remained silently listening 
with a contemptuous face to her old mother's inarticulate 
complainings. 



SURELY AN UNNATURAL DAUGHTER? 63 

"Did you expect to see me return as youthful as I went 
away, mother ? " she said at length, turning her eyes upon 
the old woman. " Did you think a foreign life, like mine, was 
good for good looks ? One would believe so, to hear you ! " 

It an't that ! " cried the mother. " She knows it ! " 

" What is it then ? " returned the daughter. " It had best 
be something that don't last, mother, or my way out is easier 
than my way in." 

" Hear that ! " exclaimed the mother. " After all these, 
years she threatens to desert me in the moment of her coming- 
back again ! " 

"I tell you, mother, for the second time, there have been 
years for me as well as you," said Alice. "Come back 
harder ? Of course I have come back harder. What else did 
you expect?" 

" Harder to me ! To her own dear mother [ " cried the 
old woman. 

" I don't know who began to harden me, if .my own dear 
mother didn't," she returned, sitting with her folded arms, 
and knitted brows, and compressed lips as if she were bent 
on excluding, by force, every softer feeling from her breast. 
"Listen, mother, to a word or two. If we understand each 
other now, we shall not fall out any more, perhaps. I went 
u way a girl, and have come back a woman. I went away 
undutiful enough, and have come back no better, you may 
swear. But have you been very dutiful to me ? " 

" I ! " cried the old woman. " To my gal ! A mother 
dutiful to her own child ! " 

"It sounds unnatural, don't it?" returned the daughter, 
looking coldly on her with her stern, regardless, hardy, 
beautiful face ; " but I have thought of it sometimes, in the 
course of my lone years, till I have got used to it. I have 
heard some talk about duty first and last ; but it has always 
been of my duty to other people. I have wondered now 
and then to pass away the time whether no one ever 
owed any duty to me." 



64 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Her mother sat mowing, and mumbling, and shaking her 
head, but whether angrily, or remorsefully, or in denial, or 
only in her physical infirmity, did not appear. 

" There was a child called Alice Marwood," said the 
daughter, with a laugh, and looking down at herself in terrible 
derision of herself, "born, among poverty and neglect, and 
nursed in it. Nobody taught her, nobody stepped forward 
to help her, nobody cared for her. 1 " 

" Nobody ! " echoed the mother, pointing to herself, and 
striking her breast. 

"The only care she knew," returned the daughter, "was 
to be beaten, and stinted, and abused sometimes; and she 
might have done better without that. She lived in homes 
like this, and in the streets, with a crowd of little wretches 
like herself; and yet she brought good looks out of this 
childhood. So much the worse for her. She had better 
have been hunted and worried to death for ugliness. 1 ' 

" Go on ! go on ! " exclaimed the mother. 

" I am going on,"" returned the daughter. " There was a 
girl called Alice Marwood. She was handsome. She was 
taught too late, and taught all wrong. She was too well 
cared for, too well trained, too well helped on, too much 
looked after. You were very fond of her you were better 
off then. What came to that girl comes to thousands every 
year. It was only ruin, and she was born to it."" 

" After all these years ! " whined the old woman. " My 
gal begins with this." 

" She'll soon have ended," said the daughter. " There was 
a criminal called Alice Marwood a girl still, but deserted 
and an outcast. And she was tried, and she was sentenced. 
And lord, how the gentlemen in the court talked about it ! 
and how grave the judge was on her duty, and on her having 
perverted the gifts of nature as if he didn't know better 
than anybody there, that they had been made curses to her ! 
and how he preached about the strong arm of the Law 
so very strong to save her, when she was an innocent and 



SENT TO LEARN DUTY. 65 

helpless little wretch; and how solemn and religious it all 
was. I have thought of that, many times since, to be 
sure ! " 

She folded her arms tightly on her breast, and laughed in 
a tone that made the howl of the old woman musical. 

" So Alice Marwood was transported, mother," she pursued, 
"and was sent to learn her duty, where there was twenty 
times less duty, and more wickedness, and wrong, and infamy, 
than here. And Alice Marwood is come back a woman. 
Such a woman as she ought to be, after all this. In good 
time, there will be more solemnity, and more fine talk, and 
more strong arm, most likely, and there will be an end of 
her; but the gentlemen needn't be afraid of being thrown 
out of work. There's crowds of little wretches, boy and girl, 
growing up in any of the streets they live in, that'll keep 
them to it till they've made their fortunes." 

The old woman leaned her elbows on the table, and rest 
ing her face upon her two hands, made a show of being in 
great distress or really was, perhaps. 

" There ! I have done, mother," said the daughter, with a 
motion of her head, as if in dismissal of the subject. " I have 
said enough. Don't let you and I talk of being dutiful, 
whatever we do. Your childhood was like mine, I suppose. 
So much the worse for both of us. I don't want to blame 
you, or to defend myself ; why should I ? That's all over 
long ago. But I am a woman not a girl, now and you 
and I needn't make a show of our history, like the gentlemen 
in the Court. We know all about it well enough." 

Lost and degraded as she was, there was a beauty in her, 
both of face and form, which, even in its worst expression, 
could not but be recognised as such by any one regarding her 
with the least attention. As she subsided into silence, and 
her face which had been harshly agitated, quieted down ; 
while her dark eyes, fixed upon the fire, exchanged the reck 
less light that had animated them, for one that was softened 
by something like sorrow; there shone through all her 

VOL. II. F 



66 DOMBEY AND SON. 

wayworn misery and fatigue, a ray of the departed radiance 
of the fallen angel. 

Her mother, after watching her for some time without 
speaking, ventured to steal her withered hand a little nearer 
to her across the table ; and finding that she permitted this, 
to touch her face and smooth her hair. With the feeling as 
it seemed, that the old woman was at least sincere in this 
show of interest, Alice made no movement to check her ; so, 
advancing by degrees, she bound up her daughter's hair afresh, 
took off* her wet shoes, if they deserved the name, spread 
something dry upon her shoulders, and hovered humbly about 
her, muttering to herself, as she recognised her old features 
and expression more and more. 

"You are very poor, mother, I see,"" said Alice, looking 
round, when she had sat thus for some time. 

"Bitter poor, my deary," replied the old woman. 

She admired her daughter, and was afraid of her. Perhaps 
her admiration, such as it was, had originated long ago, when 
she first found anything that was beautiful appearing in the 
midst of the squalid fight of her existence. Perhaps her fear 
was referable, in some sort, to the retrospect she had so lately 
heard. Be this as it might, she stood, submissively and 
deferentially, before her child, and inclined her head, as if in 
a pitiful entreaty to be spared any further reproach. 

" How have you lived ? " 

" By begging, my deary." 

"And pilfering, mother?" 

"Sometimes, Ally in a very small way. I am old and 
timid. I have taken trifles from children now and then, my 
deary, but not often. I have tramped about the country, pet, 
and I know what I know. I have watched." 

" Watched ? " returned the daughter, looking at her. 

"I have hung about a family, my deary," said the mother, 
even more humbly and submissively than before. 

"What family?" 

" Hush, darling. Don't be angry with me, I did it for the 



SUPPRESSED WRATH. 67 

love of you. In memory of my poor gal beyond seas."" She 
put out her hand deprecatingly, and drawing it back again, 
laid it on her lips. 

"Years ago, my deary, 11 she pursued, glancing timidly at 
the attentive and stern face opposed to her. "I came across 
his little child, by chance. 11 

"Whose child?" 

" Not his, Alice deary ; don't look at me like that ; not his. 
How could it be his ? You know he has none. 1 ' 

" Whose then ? " returned the daughter. " You said his. 11 

"Hush, Ally; you frighten me, deary. Mr. Dombey's 
only Mr. Dombey's. Since then, darling, I have seen them 
often. I have seen him" 

In uttering this last word, the old woman shrunk and 
recoiled, as if with a sudden fear that her daughter would 
strike her. But though the daughter's face was fixed upon 
her, and expressed the most vehement passion, she remained 
still : except that she clenched her arms tighter and tighter 
within each other, on her bosom, as if to restrain them by 
that means from doing an injury to herself, or some one else, 
in the blind fury of the wrath that suddenly possessed her. 

" Little he thought who I was ! "" said the old woman, 
shaking her clenched hand. 

"And little he cared! 11 muttered her daughter, between 
her teeth. 

" But there we were, 1 ' said the old woman, " face to face. 
I spoke to him, and he spoke to me. I sat and watched him 
as he went away down a long grove of trees: and at every 
step he took, I cursed him soul and body. 11 

"He will thrive in spite of that, 11 returned the daughter 
disdainfully. 

"Aye, he is thriving, 11 said the mother. 

She held her peace ; for the face and form before her were 
unshaped by rage. It seemed as if the bosom would burst with 
the emotions that strove within it. The effort that constrained 
and held it pent up, was no less formidable than the rage 



68 DOMBEY AND SON. 

itself : no less bespeaking the violent and dangerous character 
of the woman who made it. But it succeeded, and she 
asked, after a silence : 

" Is he married ? " 

" No, deary," said the mother. 

"Going to be?" 

" Not that I know of, deary. But his master and friend 
is married. Oh, we may give him joy ! We may give ""em 
all joy ! " cried the old woman, hugging herself with her lean 
arms in her exultation. " Nothing but joy to us will come 
of that marriage. Mind me ! " 

The daughter looked at her for an explanation. 

" But you are wet and tired : hungry and thirsty," said 
the old woman, hobbling to the cupboard ; " and there^s 
little here, and little" diving down into her pocket, and 
jingling a few halfpence on the table " little here. Have 
you any money, Alice, deary ? " 

The covetous, sharp, eager face with which she asked the 
question and looked on, as her daughter took out of her 
bosom the little gift she had so lately received, told almost 
as much of the history of this parent and child as the child 
herself had told in words. 

" Is that all ? " said the mother. 

" I have no more. I should not have this, but for charity. 1 ' 

" But for charity, eh, deary ? " said the old woman, bend 
ing greedily over the table to look at the money, which she 
appeared distrustful of her daughter's still retaining in her 
hand, and gazing on. " Humph ! six and six is twelve, and six 
eighteen so we must make the most of it. I'll go buy 
something to eat and drink." 

With greater alacrity than might have been expected in 
one of her appearance for age and misery seemed to have 
made her as decrepit as ugly she began to occupy her 
trembling hands in tying an old bonnet on her head, and 
folding a torn shawl about herself: still eyeing the money 
in her daughter's hand, with the same sharp desire. 



WISHING THEM JOY OF THE MARRIAGE. 69 

" What joy is to come to us of this marriage, mother ? " 
asked the daughter. " You have not told me that/ 1 

"The joy," she replied, attiring herself, with fumbling 
fingers, "of no love at all, and much pride and hate, my 
deary. The joy of confusion and strife among 'em, proud as 
they are, and of danger danger, Alice ! " 

" What danger ? " 

" / have seen what I have seen. / know what I know ! " 
chuckled the mother. "Let some look to it. Let some be 
upon their guard. My gal may keep good company yet ! " 

Then, seeing that in the wondering earnestness with which 
her daughter regarded her, her hand involuntarily closed 
upon the money, the old woman made more speed to secure 
it, and hurriedly added, "but Til go buy something; I'll go 
buy something." 

As she stood with her hand stretched out before her 
daughter, her daughter, glancing again at the money, put it 
to her lips before parting with it. 

" What, Ally ! Do you kiss it ? " chuckled the old woman. 
" That's like me I often do. Oh, it's so good to us ! " 
squeezing her own tarnished halfpence up to her bag of a 
throat, " so good to us in everything but not coming in 
heaps ! " 

" I kiss it, mother," said the daughter, " or I did then I 
don't know that I ever did before for the giver's sake." 

" The giver, eh, deray ? " retorted the old woman, whose 
dimmed eyes glistened as she took it. " Aye ! I'll kiss it for 
the giver's sake, too, when the giver can make it go farther. 
But I'll go spend it, deary. I'll be back directly." 

" You seem to say you know a great deal, mother," said 
the daughter, following her to the door with her eyes. " You 
have grown very wise since we parted." 

" Know ! " croaked the old woman, coming back a step or 
two, "I know more than you think. I know more than he 
thinks, deary, as 111 tell you by and bye. I know all about 
him." 



70 DOMBEY AND SON. 

The daughter smiled incredulously. 

" I know of his brother, Alice," said the old woman, 
stretching out her neck with a leer of malice absolutely 
frightful, "who might have been where you have been for 
stealing money and who lives with his sister, over yonder, 
by the north road out of London." 

"Where?" 

" By the north road out of London, deary. You shall see 
the house if you like. It an't much to boast of, genteel as 
his own is. No, no, no,*' cried the old woman, shaking her 
head and laughing ; for her daughter had started up, " not 
now; it's too far off; it's by the milestone, where the stones 
are heaped ; to-morrow, deary, if it's fine, and you are in 
the humour. But I'll go spend " 

" Stop ! " and the daughter flung herself upon her, with 
her former passion raging like a fire. " The sister is a fair- 
faced Devil, with brown hair?" 

The old woman, amazed and terrified, nodded her head. 

" I see the shadow of him in her face ! It's a red house 
standing by itself. Before the door there is a small green 
porch." 

Again the old woman nodded. 

" In which I sat to-day ! Give me back the money. w 

" Alice ! Deary ! " 

" Give me back the money, or you'll be hurt." 

She forced it from the old woman's hand as she spoke, and 
utterly indifferent to her complainings and entreaties, threw 
on the garments she had taken off, and hurried out, with 
headlong speed. 

The mother followed, limping after her as she could, and 
expostulating with no more effect upon her than upon the 
wind and rain and darkness that encompassed them. Obdurate 
and fierce in her own purpose, and indifferent to all besides, 
the daughter defied the weather and the distance, as if she 
had known no travel or fatigue, and made for the house 
where she had been relieved. After some quarter of an 



THE GIFT SPURNED. 71 

hour's walking, the old woman, spent and out of breath, 
ventured to hold by her skirts ; but she ventured no more, 
and they travelled on in silence through the wet and gloom. 
If the mother now and then uttered a word of complaint, 
she stifled it lest her daughter should break away from her 
and leave her behind ; and the daughter was dumb. 

It was within an hour or so of midnight, when they left 
the regular streets behind them, and entered on the deeper 
gloom of that neutral ground where the house was situated. 
The town lay in the distance, lurid and lowering; the bleak 
wind howled over the open space ; all around was black, wild, 
desolate. 

" This is a fit place for me ! " said the daughter, stopping 
to look back. " I thought so, when I was here before, to-day." 

"Alice, my deary,"" cried the mother, pulling her gently 
by the skirt. " Alice ! " 

"What now, mother? 1 ' 

"Don't give the money back, my darling; please don't. 
We can't afford it. We want supper, deary. Money is 
money, whoever gives it. Say what you will, but keep the 
money." 

" See there ! " was all the daughter's answer. " That is the 
house I mean. Is that it?" 

The old woman nodded in the affirmative ; and a few more 
paces brought them to the threshold. There was the light 
of fire and candle in the room where Alice had sat to dry 
her clothes ; and on her knocking at the door, John Carker 
appeared from that room. 

He was surprised to see such visitors at such an hour, and 
asked Alice what she wanted. 

" I want your sister," she said. " The woman who gave 
me money to-day." 

At the sound of her raised voice, Harriet came out. 

" Oh ! " said Alice. " You are here ! Do you remember 
me?" 

"Yes," she answered, wondering. 



72 DOMBEY AND SON. 

The face that had humbled itself before her, looked on her 
now with such invincible hatred and defiance ; and the hand 
that had gently touched her arm, was clenched with such a 
show of evil purpose, as if it would gladly strangle her ; that 
she drew close to her brother for protection. 

" That I could speak with you, and not know you ! That 
I could come near you, and not feel what blood was running 
in your veins, by the tingling of my own ! " said Alice, with 
a menacing gesture. 

" What do you mean ? What have I done ? " 

" Done ! " returned the other. " You have sat me by your 
fire ; you have given me food and money ; you have bestowed 
your compassion on me ! You ! whose name I spit upon ! " 

The old woman, with a malevolence that made her ugliness 
quite awful, shook her withered hand at the brother and 
sister in confirmation of her daughter, but plucked her by 
the skirts again, nevertheless, imploring her to keep the money. 

" If I dropped a tear upon your hand, may it wither it 
up ! If I spoke a gentle word in your hearing, may it deafen 
you ! If I touched you with my lips, may the touch be 
poison to you ! A curse upon this roof that gave me shelter ! 
Sorrow and shame upon your head ! Ruin upon all belonging 
to you ! " 

As she said the words, she threw the money down upon 
the ground, and spurned it with her foot. 

" I tread it in the dust : I wouldn't take it if it paved my 
way to Heaven ! I would the bleeding foot that brought me 
here to-day, had rotted off, before it led me to your house ! " 

Harriet, pale and trembling, restrained her brother, and 
suffered her to go on uninterrupted. 

" It was well that I should be pitied and forgiven by you, 
or any one of your name, in the first hour of my return ! It 
was well that you should act the kind good lady to me ! Ill 
thank you when I die ; I'll pray for you, and all your race, 
you may be sure ! " 

With a fierce action of her hand, as if she sprinkled hatred 



TWO EXTREMES TOUCH. 73 

on the ground, and with it devoted those who were standing 
there to destruction, she looked up once at the black sky, 
and strode out into the wild night. 

The mother, who had plucked at her skirts again and again 
in vain, and had eyed the money lying on the threshold with 
an absorbing greed that seemed to concentrate her faculties 
upon it, would have prowled about, until the house was dark, 
and then groped in the mire on the chance of repossessing 
herself of it. But the daughter drew her away, and they set 
forth, straight, on their return to their dwelling ; the old 
woman whimpering and bemoaning their loss upon the road, 
and fretfully bewailing, as openly as she dared, the undutiful 
conduct of her handsome girl in depriving her of a supper, 
on the very first night of their re-union. 

Supperless to bed she went, saving for a few coarse frag 
ments ; and those she sat mumbling and munching over a 
scrap of fire, long after her undutiful daughter lay asleep. 

Were this miserable mother, and this miserable daughter, 
only the reduction to their lowest grade, of certain social vices 
sometimes prevailing higher up ? In this round world of 
many circles within circles, do we make a weary journey from 
the high grade to the low, to find at last that they lie 
close together, that the two extremes touch, and that our 
journey's end is but our starting-place ? Allowing for great 
difference of stuff and texture, was the pattern of this woof 
repeated among gentle blood at all ? 

Say, Edith Dombey ! And Cleopatra, best of mothers, let 
us have your testimony ! 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

THE HAPPY PAIR. 

THE dark blot on the street is gone. Mr. Dombey's mansion, 
if it be a gap among the other houses any longer, is only so 
because it is not to be vied with in its brightness, and 
haughtily casts them off'. The saying is, that home is home, 
be it never so homely. If it hold good in the opposite con 
tingency, and home is home be it never so stately, what an 
altar to the Household Gods is raised up here ! 

Lights are sparkling in the windows this evening, and the 
ruddy glow of fires is warm and bright upon the hangings 
and soft carpets, and the dinner waits to be served, and the 
dinner-table is handsomely set forth, though only for four 
persons, and the sideboard is cumbrous with plate. It is the 
first time that the house has been arranged for occupation 
since its late changes, and the happy pair are looked for 
every minute. 

Only second to the wedding morning, in the interest and 
expectation it engenders among the household, is this evening 
of the coming home. Mrs. Perch is in the kitchen taking 
tea ; and has made the tour of the establishment, and priced 
the silks and damasks by the yard, and exhausted every 
interjection in the dictionary and out of it expressive of 
admiration and wonder. The upholsterer's foreman, who has 
left his hat, with a pocket-handkerchief in it, both smelling 
strongly of varnish, under a chair in the hall, lurks about the 



EXPECTING THE HAPPY PAIR. 75 

house, gazing upwards at the cornices, and downward at the 
carpets, and occasionally, in a silent transport of enjoyment, 
taking a rule out of his pocket, and skirmishingly measuring 
expensive objects, with unutterable feelings. Cook is in high 
spirits, and says give her a place where there's plenty of 
company (as she'll bet you sixpence there will be now), for 
she is of a lively disposition, and she always was from a child, 
and she don't mind who knows it; which sentiment elicits 
from the breast of Mrs. Perch a responsive murmur of support 
and approbation. All the housemaid hopes is, happiness for 
'em but marriage is a lottery, and the more she thinks 
about it, the more she feels the independence and the safety 
of a single life. Mr. Towlinson is saturnine and grim, and 
says that's his opinion too, and give him War besides, and 
down with the French for this young man has a general 
impression that every foreigner is a Frenchman, and must be 
by the laws of nature. 

At each new sound of wheels, they all stop, whatever they 
are saying, and listen ; and more than once there is a general 
starting up and a cry of " Here they are ! " But here they 
are not yet; and Cook begins to mourn over the dinner, 
which has been put back twice, and the upholsterer's fore 
man still goes lurking about the rooms, undisturbed in his 
blissful reverie! 

Florence is ready to receive her father and her new mama. 
Whether the emotions that are throbbing in her breast 
originate in pleasure or in pain, she hardly knows. But the 
fluttering heart sends added colour to her cheeks, and bright 
ness to her eyes ; and they say down stairs, drawing their 
heads together for they always speak softly when they speak 
of her how beautiful Miss Florence looks to-night, and 
what a sweet young lady she has grown, poor dear! A 
pause succeeds; and then Cook, feeling, as president, that 
her sentiments are waited for, wonders whether and there 
stops. The housemaid wonders too, and so does Mrs. Perch, 
who has the happy social faculty of always wondering when 



76 DOMBEY AND SON. 

other people wonder, without being at all particular what 
she wonders at. Mr. Towlinson, who now descries an oppor 
tunity of bringing down the spirits of the ladies to his own 
level, says wait and see; he wishes some people were well 
out of this. Cook leads a sigh then, and a murmur of " Ah, 
it's a strange world, it is indeed ! " and when it has gone 
round the table, adds persuasively, "but Miss Florence can't 
well be the worse for any change, Tom."" Mr. Towlinson 's 
rejoinder, pregnant with frightful meaning, is " Oh, can't 
she though ! " and sensible that a mere man can scarcely be 
more prophetic, or improve upon that, he holds his peace. 

Mrs. Skewton, prepared to greet her darling daughter and 
dear son-in-law with open arms, is appropriately attired for 
that purpose in a very youthful costume, with short sleeves. 
At present, however, her ripe charms are blooming in the 
shade of her own apartments, whence she has not emerged 
since she took possession of them a few hours ago, and where 
she is fast growing fretful, on account of the postponement 
of dinner. The maid who ought to be a skeleton, but is in 
truth a buxom damsel, is, on the other hand, in a most 
amiable state : considering her quarterly stipend much safer 
than heretofore, and foreseeing a great improvement in her 
board and lodging. 

Where are the happy pair, for whom this brave home is 
waiting? Do steam, tide, wind, and horses, all abate their 
speed, to linger on such happiness ? Does the swarm of loves 
and graces hovering about them retard their progress by its 
numbers? Are there so many flowers in their happy path, 
that they can scarcely move along, without entanglement in 
thornless roses, and sweetest briar? 

They are here at last ! The noise of wheels is heard, 
grows louder, and a carriage drives up to the door! A 
thundering knock from the obnoxious foreigner anticipates 
the rush of Mr. Towlinson and party to open it; and Mr. 
Dombey and his bride alight, and walk in arm in arm. 

" My sweetest Edith ! " cries an agitated voice upon the 



THE WELCOME HOME. 77 

stairs. " My dearest Dombey ! " and the short sleeves wreath 
themselves about the happy couple in turn, and embrace 
them. 

Florence had come down to the hall too, but did not 
advance : reserving her timid welcome until these nearer and 
dearer transports should subside. But the eyes of Edith 
sought her out, upon the threshold; and dismissing her 
sensitive parent with a slight kiss on the cheek, she hurried 
on to Florence and embraced her. 

" How do you do, Florence ? " said Mr. Dombey, putting 
out his hand. 

As Florence, trembling, raised it to her lips, she met his 
glance. ,The look was cold and distant enough, but it stirred 
her heart to think that she observed in it something more 
of interest than he had ever shown before. It even expressed 
a kind of faint surprise, and not a disagreeable surprise, at 
sight of her. She dared not raise her eyes to his any more ; 
but she felt that he looked at her once again, and not less 
favourably. Oh what a thrill of joy shot through her, 
awakened by even this intangible and baseless confirmation 
of her hope that she would learn to win him, through her 
new and beautiful mama ! 

" You will not be long dressing, Mrs. Dombey, I presume ? " 
said Mr. Dombey. 

" I shall be ready immediately. 11 

" Let them send up dinner in a quarter of an hour." 

With that Mr. Dombey stalked away to his own dressing- 
room, and Mrs. Dombey went up stairs to hers. Mrs. 
Skewton and Florence repaired to the drawing-room, where 
that excellent mother considered it incumbent on her to shed 
a few irrepressible tears, supposed to be forced from her by 
her daughter's felicity ; and which she was still drying, very 
gingerly, with a laced corner of her pocket-handkerchief, 
when her son-in-law appeared. 

" And how, my dearest Dombey, did you find that delight- 
fullest of cities, Paris ? " she asked, subduing her emotion. 



78 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" It was cold," returned Mr. Dombey. 

" Gay as ever," said Mrs. Skewton, " of course." 

"Not particularly. I thought it dull," said Mr. Dombey. 

" Fie, my dearest Dombey ! " archly ; " dull ! " 

"It made that impression upon me, Madam," said Mr. 
Dombey, with grave politeness. "I believe Mi's. Dombey 
found it dull too. She mentioned once or twice that she 
thought it so." 

" Why, you naughty girl ! " cried Mrs. Skewton, rallying 
her dear child, who now entered, "what dreadfully heretical 
things have you been saying about Paris?" 

Edith raised her eyebrows with an air of weariness; and 
passing the folding-doors which were thrown open to display 
the suite of rooms in their new and handsome garniture, 
and barely glancing at them as she passed, sat down by 
Florence. 

"My dear Dombey," said Mrs. Skewton, "how charmingly 
these people have carried out every idea that we hinted. 
They have made a perfect palace of the house, positively." 

"It is handsome," said Mr. Dombey, looking round. "I 
directed that no expense should be spared ; and all that 
money could do, has been done, I believe." 

" And what can it not do, dear Dombey ? " observed 
Cleopatra. 

" It is powerful, Madam," said Mr. Dombey. 

He looked in his solemn way towards his wife, but not a 
word said she. 

"I hope, Mrs. Dombey," addressing her after a moment's 
silence, with especial distinctness ; " that these alterations 
meet with your approval ? " 

"They are as handsome as they can be," she returned, 
with haughty carelessness. " They should be so, of course. 
And I suppose they are." 

An expression of scorn was habitual to the proud face, and 
seemed inseparable from it; but the contempt with which it 
received any appeal to admiration, respect, or consideration 



A STATUE AT THE FEAST. 79 

on the ground of his riches, no matter how slight or ordinary 
in itself, was a new and different expression, unequalled in 
intensity by any other of which it was capable. Whether Mr. 
Dombey, wrapped in his own greatness, was at all aware of 
this, or no, there had not been wanting opportunities already 
for his complete enlightenment ; and at that moment it might 
have been effected by the one glance of the dark eye that 
lighted on him, after it had rapidly and scornfully surveyed 
the theme of his self-glorification. He might have read in 
that one glance that nothing that his wealth could do, though 
it were increased ten thousand fold, could win him for its 
own sake, one look of softened recognition from the defiant 
woman, linked to him, but arrayed with her whole soul 
against him. He might have read in that one glance that 
even for its sordid and mercenary influence upon herself, she 
spurned it, while she claimed its utmost power as her right, 
her bargain as the base and worthless recompense for which 
she had become his wife. He might have read in it that, 
ever baring her own head for the lightning of her own con 
tempt and pride to strike, the most innocent allusion to the 
power of his riches degraded her anew, sunk her deeper in 
her own respect, and made the blight and waste within her 
more complete. 

But dinner was announced, and Mr. Dombey led down 
Cleopatra ; Edith and his daughter following. Sweeping past 
the gold and silver demonstration on the sideboard as if it 
were heaped-up dirt, and deigning to bestow no look upon 
the elegancies around her, she took her place at his board 
for the first time, and sat, like a statue, at the feast. 

Mr. Dombey, being a good deal in the statue way himself, 
was well enough pleased to see his handsome wife immoveable 
and proud and cold. Her deportment being always elegant 
and graceful, this as a general behaviour was agreeable and 
congenial to him. Presiding, therefore, with his accustomed 
dignity, and not at all reflecting on his wife by any warmth 
or hilarity of his own, he performed his share of the honours 



80 DOMBEY AND SON. 

of the table with a cool satisfaction ; and the installation 
dinner, though not regarded down stairs as a great success, 
or very promising beginning, passed off, above, in a sufficiently 
polite, genteel, and frosty manner. 

Soon after tea, Mrs. Skewton, who affected to be quite 
overcome and worn out by her emotions of happiness, arising 
in the contemplation of her dear child united to the man of 
her heart, but who, there is reason to suppose, found this 
family party somewhat dull, as she yawned for one hour 
continually behind her fan, retired to bed. Edith, also, 
silently withdrew and came back no more. Thus, it happened 
that Florence, who had been up stairs to have some conversa 
tion with Diogenes, returning to the drawing-room with her 
little work-basket, found no one there but her father, who 
was walking to and fro, in dreary magnificence. 

"I beg your pardon. Shall I go away, Papa?" said 
Florence faintly, hesitating at the door. 

"No," returned Mr. Dombey, looking round over his 
shoulder; "you can come and go here, Florence, as you 
please. This is not my private room." 

Florence entered, and sat down at a distant little table 
with her work : finding herself for the first time in her life 
for the very first time within her memory from her infancy 
to that hour alone with her father, as his companion. She, 
his natural companion, his only child, who in her lonely life 
and grief had known the suffering of a breaking heart ; who, 
in her rejected love, had never breathed his name to God at 
night, but with a tearful blessing, heavier on him than a 
curse; who had prayed to die young, so she might only die 
in his arms ; who had, all through, repaid the agony of slight 
and coldness, and dislike, with patient unexacting love, excusing 
him, and pleading for him, like his better angel ! 

She trembled, and her eyes were dim. His figure seemed 
to grow in height and bulk before her as he paced the room : 
now it was all blurred and indistinct; now clear again, and 
plain ; and now she seemed to think that this had happened, 



FLORENCE IN HER FATHER'S PRESENCE. 81 

just the same, a multitude of years ago. She yearned towards 
him, and yet shrunk from his approach. Unnatural emotion 
in a child, innocent of wrong ! Unnatural the hand that 
had directed the sharp plough, which furrowed up her gentle 
nature for the sowing of its seeds ! 

Bent upon not distressing or offending him by her distress, 
Florence controlled herself, and sat quietly at her work. 
After a few more turns across and across the room, he left 
off pacing it ; and withdrawing into a shadowy corner at 
some distance, where there was an easy chair, covered his 
head with a handkerchief, and composed himself to sleep. 

It was enough for Florence to sit there watching him; 
turning her eyes towards his chair from time to time; 
watching him with her thoughts, when her face was intent 
upon her work; and sorrowfully glad to think that he could 
sleep, while she was there, and that he was not made restless 
by her strange and long-forbidden presence. 

What would have been her thoughts if she had known 
that he was steadily regarding her; that the veil upon his 
face, by accident or by design, was so adjusted that his sight 
was free, and that it never wandered from her face an instant ! 
That when she looked towards him, in the obscure dark 
corner, her speaking eyes, more earnest and pathetic in their 
voiceless speech than all the orators of all the world, and 
impeaching him more nearly in their mute address, met his, 
and did not know it ! That when she bent her head again 
over her work, he drew his breath more easily, but with the 
same attention looked upon her still upon her white brow 
and her falling hair, and busy hands ; and once attracted, 
seemed to have no power to turn his eyes away ! 

And what were his thoughts meanwhile ? With what 
emotions did he prolong the attentive gaze covertly directed 
on his unknown daughter? Was there reproach to him in 
the quiet figure and the mild eyes? Had he begun to feel 
her disregarded claims, and did they touch him home at last, 
and waken him to some sense of his cruel injustice ? 
VOL. n. G 



82 DOMBEY AND SON. 

There are yielding moments in the lives of the sternest 
and harshest men, though such men often keep their secret 
well. The sight of her in her beauty, almost changed into 
a woman without his knowledge, may have struck out some 
such moments even in his life of pride. Some passing 
thought that he had had a happy home within his reach 
had had a household spirit bending at his feet had over 
looked it in his stiff-necked sullen arrogance, and wandered 
away and lost himself, may have engendered them. Some 
simple eloquence distinctly heard, though only uttered in her 
eyes, unconscious that he read them, as "By the death-beds 
I have tended, by the childhood I have suffered, by our 
meeting in this dreary house at midnight, by the cry wrung 
from me in the anguish of my heart, oh, father, turn to me 
and seek a refuge in my love before it is too late ! " may 
have arrested them. Meaner and lower thoughts, as that 
his dead boy was now superseded by new ties, and he could 
forgive the having been supplanted in his affection, may have 
occasioned them. The mere association of her as an orna 
ment, with all the ornament and pomp about him, may have 
been sufficient. But as he looked, he softened to her, more 
and more. As he looked, she became blended with the child 
he had loved, and he could hardly separate the two. As he 
looked, he saw her for an instant by a clearer and a brighter 
light, not bending over that child's pillow as his rival 
monstrous thought but as the spirit of his home, and in 
the action tending himself no less, as he sat once more with 
his bowed-down head upon his hand at the foot of the little 
bed. He felt inclined to speak to her, and call her to him. 
The words " Florence, come here ! " were rising to his lips 
but slowly and with difficulty, they were so very strange 
when they were checked and stifled by a footstep on the stair. 

It was his wife's. She had exchanged her dinner dress 
for a loose robe, and unbound her hair, which fell freely 
about her neck. But this was not the change in her that 
startled him. 



THE STATUE MELTS FOR FLORENCE. 83 

"Florence, dear," she said, "I have been looking for you 
everywhere. 1 ' 

As she sat down by the side of Florence, she stooped and 
kissed her hand. He hardly knew his wife. She was so 
changed. It was not merely that her smile was new to him 
though that he had never seen ; but her manner, the tone 
of her voice, the light of her eyes, the interest, and confidence, 
and winning wish to please, expressed in all this was not 
Edith. 

" Softly, dear Mama. Papa is asleep." 
It Avas Edith now. She looked towards the corner where 
he was, and he knew that face and manner very well. 
" I scarcely thought you could be here, Florence." 
Again, how altered and how softened, in an instant ! 
"I left here early," pursued Edith, "purposely to sit up 
stairs and talk with you. But, going to your room, I found 
my bird was flown, and I have been waiting there ever since, 
expecting its return." 

If it had been a bird, indeed, she could not have taken 
it more tenderly and gently to her breast, than she did 
Florence. 

" Come, dear ! " 

"Papa will not expect to find me, I suppose, when he 
wakes," hesitated Florence. 

" Do you think he will, Florence ? " said Edith, looking full 
upon her. 

Florence drooped her head, and rose, and put up her work- 
basket. Edith drew her hand through her arm, and they 
went out of the room like sisters. Her very step was different 
and new to him, Mr. Dombey thought, as his eyes followed her 
to the door. 

He sat in his shadowy corner so long, that the church clocks 
struck the hour three times before he moved that night. All 
that while his face was still intent upon the spot where 
Florence had been seated. The room grew darker, as the 
candles waned and went out , but a darkness gathered on his 



84 DOMBEY AND SON. 

face, exceeding any that the night could cast, and rested 
there. 

Florence and Edith, seated before the fire in the remote 
room where little Paul had died, talked together for a long 
time. Diogenes, who was of the party, had at first objected 
to the admission of Edith, and, even in deference to his 
mistress's wish, had only permitted it under growling protest. 
But, emerging by little and little from the ante-room, whither 
he had retired in dudgeon, he soon appeared to comprehend, 
that with the most amiable intentions he had made one of 
those mistakes which will occasionally arise in the best- 
regulated dogs' 1 minds; as a friendly apology for which he 
stuck himself up on end between the two, in a very hot place 
in front of the fire, and sat panting at it, with his tongue 
out, and a most imbecile expression of countenance, listening 
to the conversation. 

It turned, at first, on Florence's books and favourite pur 
suits, and on the manner in which she had beguiled the 
interval since the marriage. The last theme opened up to 
her a subject which lay very near her heart, and she said, 
with the tears starting to her eyes : 

" Oh, Mama ! I have had a great sorrow since that day." 

" You a great sorrow, Florence ! " 

" Yes. Poor Walter is drowned." 

Florence spread her hands before her face, and wept with 
all her heart. Many as were the secret tears which Walter's 
fate had cost her, they flowed yet, when she thought or spoke 
of him. 

" But tell me, dear," said Edith, soothing her. " Who was 
Walter ? What was he to you ? " 

" He was my brother, Mama. After dear Paul died, we 
said we would be brother and sister. I had known him a 
long time from a little child. He knew Paul, who liked 
him very much ; Paul said, almost at the last, ' Take care of 
Walter, dear Papa ! I was fond of him ! ' Walter had been 
brought in to see him, and was there then in this room." 



NOT A FAVOURITE CHILD. 85 

"And did he take care of Walter?" inquired Edith, 
sternly. 

" Papa ? He appointed him to go abroad. He was drowned 
in shipwreck on his voyage," said Florence, sobbing. 
" Does he know that he is dead ? " asked Edith. 
"I cannot tell, Mama. I have no means of knowing. 
Dear Mama ! " cried Florence, clinging to her as for help, 
and hiding her face upon her bosom, " I know that you have 
seen " 

" Stay ! Stop, Florence." Edith turned so pale, and spoke 
so earnestly, that Florence did not need her restraining hand 
upon her lips. "Tell me all about Walter first; let me 
understand this history all through." 

Florence related it, and everything belonging to it, even 
down to the friendship of Mr. Toots, of whom she could 
hardly speak in her distress without a tearful smile, although 
she was deeply grateful to him. When she had concluded 
her account, to the whole of which Edith, holding her hand, 
listened with close attention, and when a silence had suc 
ceeded, Edith said: 

" What is it that you know I have seen, Florence ? " 
"That I am not," said Florence, with the same mute 
appeal, and the same quick concealment of her face as before, 
" that I am not a favourite child, Mama. I never have been. 
I have never known how to be. I have missed the way, and 
had no one to show it to me. Oh, let me learn from you 
how to become dearer to Papa. Teach me ! you, who can so 
well ! " and clinging closer to her, with some broken fervent 
words of gratitude and endearment, Florence, relieved of her 
sad secret, wept long, but not as painfully as of yore, within 
the encircling arms of her new mother. 

Pale even to her lips, and with a face that strove for 
composure until its proud beauty was as fixed as death, Edith 
looked down upon the weeping girl, and once kissed her. 
Then gradually disengaging herself, and putting Florence 
away, she said, stately, and quiet as a marble image, and in 



86 DOMBEY AND SON. 

a voice that deepened as she spoke, but had no other token 
of emotion in it : 

" Florence, you do not know me ! Heaven forbid that you 
should learn from me ! " 

" Not learn from you ? " repeated Florence, in surprise. 

" That I should teach you how to love, or be loved, Heaven 
forbid ! " said Edith. " If you could teach me, that were 
better; but it is too late. You are dear to me, Florence. 
I did not think that anything could ever be so dear to me, 
as you are in this little time." 

She saw that Florence would have spoken here, so checked 
her with her hand, and went on. 

" I will be your true friend always. I will cherish you, as 
much, if not as well as any one in this world could. You may 
trust in me I know it and I say it, dear, with the whole 
confidence even of your pure heart. There are hosts of women 
whom he might have married, better and truer in all other 
respects than I am, Florence ; but there is not one who could 
come here, his wife, whose heart could beat with greater truth 
to you than mine does. 1 ' 

"I know it, dear Mama!" cried Florence. "From that 
first most happy day I have known it." 

" Most happy day ! " Edith seemed to repeat the words in 
voluntarily, and went on. " Though the merit is not mine, for 
I thought little of you until I saw you, let the undeserved 
reward be mine in your trust and love. And in this in 
this, Florence; on the first night of my taking up my abode 
here; I am led on as it is best I should be, to say it for the 
first and last time." 

Florence, without knowing why, felt almost afraid to hear 
her proceed, but kept her eyes riveted on the beautiful face 
so fixed upon her own. 

"Never seek to find in me," said Edith, laying her hand 
upon her breast, " what is not here. Never if you can help 
it, Florence, fall off from me because it is not here. Little 
by little you will know me better, and the time will come 



A SERIOUS WORD IN CONFIDENCE. 87 

when you will know me, as I know myself. Then, be as lenient 
to me as you can, and do not turn to bitterness the only 
sweet remembrance I shall have." 

The tears that were visible in her eyes as she kept them 
fixed on Florence, showed that the composed face was but as 
a handsome mask ; but she preserved it, and continued : 

" I have seen what you say, and know how true it is. But 
believe me you will soon, if you cannot now there is no 
one on this earth less qualified to set it right or help you, 
Florence, than I. Never ask me why, or speak to me about 
it or of my husband, more. There should be, so far, a division, 
and a silence between us two, like the grave itself. 1 ' 

She sat for some time silent ; Florence scarcely venturing 
to breathe meanwhile, as dim and imperfect shadows of the 
truth, and all its daily consequences, chased each other through 
her terrified, yet incredulous imagination. Almost as soon 
as she had ceased to speak, Edith's face began to subside from 
its set composure to that quieter and more relenting aspect, 
which it usually wore when she and Florence were alone 
together. She shaded it, after this change, with her hands; 
and when she arose, and with an affectionate embrace bade 
Florence good night, went quickly, and without looking 
round. 

But when Florence was in bed, and the room was dark 
except for the glow of the fire, Edith returned, and saying 
that she could not sleep, and that her dressing-room was 
lonely, drew a chair upon the hearth, and watched the embers 
as they died away. Florence watched them too from her bed, 
until they, and the noble figure before them, crowned with 
its flowing hair, and in its thoughtful eyes reflecting back 
their light, became confused and indistinct, and finally were 
lost in slumber. 

In her sleep, however, Florence could not lose an undefined 
impression of what had so recently passed. It formed the 
subject of her dreams, and haunted her ; now in one shape, 
now in another ; but always oppressively ; and with a sense 



88 DOMBEY AND SON. 

of fear. She dreamed of seeking her father in wildernesses, 
of following his track up fearful heights, and down into deep 
mines and caverns; of being charged with something that 
would release him from extraordinary suffering she knew not 
what, or why yet never being able to attain the goal and 
set him free. Then she saw him dead, upon that very bed, 
and in that very room, and knew that he had never loved 
her to the last, and fell upon his cold breast, passionately 
weeping. Then a prospect opened, and a river flowed, and 
a plaintive voice she knew, cried, " It is running on, Floy ! 
It has never stopped ! You are moving with it ! " And she 
saw him at a distance stretching out his arms towards her, 
Avhile a figure such as Walter's used to be, stood near him, 
awfully serene and still. In every vision, Edith came and 
went, sometimes to her joy, sometimes to her sorrow, until 
they were alone upon the brink of a dark grave, and Edith 
pointing down, she looked and saw what ! another Edith 
lying at the bottom. 

In the terror of this dream, she cried out and awoke, she 
thought. A soft voice seemed to whisper in her ear, 
" Florence, dear Florence, it is nothing but a dream ! " and 
stretching out her arms, she returned the caress of her new 
mama, who then went out at the door in the light of the 
grey morning. In a moment, Florence sat up wondering 
whether this had really taken place or not ; but she was only 
certain that it was grey morning indeed, and that the blackened 
ashes of the fire were on the hearth, and that she was alone. 

So passed the night on which the happy pair came home. 



CHAPTER XXXVI. 

HOUSEWARMING. 

MANY succeeding days passed in like manner; except that 
there were numerous visits received and paid, and that Mrs. 
Skewton held little levees in her own apartments, at which 
Major Bagstock was a frequent attendant, and that Florence 
encountered no second look from her father, although she 
saw him every day. Nor had she much communication in 
words with her new mama, who was imperious and proud to 
all the house but her Florence could not but observe that 
and who, although she always sent for her or went to her 
when she came home from visiting, and would always go into 
her room at night, before retiring to rest, however late the 
hour, and never lost an opportunity of being with her, was 
often her silent and thoughtful companion for a long time 
together. 

Florence, who had hoped for so much from this marriage, 
could not help sometimes comparing the bright house with 
the faded dreaiy place out of which it had arisen, and 
wondering when, in any shape, it would begin to be a home ; 
for that it was no home then, for any one, though everything 
went on luxuriously and regularly, she had always a secret 
misgiving. Many an hour of sorrowful reflection by day and 
night, and many a tear of blighted hope, Florence bestowed 
upon the assurance her new mama had given her so strongly, 
that there was no one on the earth more powerless than 



90 DOMBEY AND SON. 

herself to teach her how to win her father's heart. And 
soon Florence began to think resolved to think would be 
the truer phrase that as no one knew so well, how hope 
less of being subdued or changed her father's coldness to her 
was, so she had given her this warning, and forbidden the 
subject in very compassion. Unselfish here, as in her every 
act and fancy, Florence preferred to bear the pain of this 
new wound, rather than encourage any faint foreshadowings 
of the truth as it concerned her father ; tender of him, even 
in her wandering thoughts. As for his home, she hoped it 
would become a better one, when its state of novelty and 
transition should be over; and for herself, thought little and 
lamented less. 

If none of the new family were particularly at home in 
private, it was resolved that Mrs. Dombey at least should be 
at home in public, without delay. A series of entertainments in 
celebration of the late nuptials, and in cultivation of society, 
were arranged, chiefly by Mr. Dombey and Mrs. Skewton; 
and it was settled that the festive proceedings should commence 
by Mrs. Dombey's being at home upon a certain evening, and 
by Mr. and Mrs. Dombey's requesting the honour of the 
company of a great many incongruous people to dinner on 
the same day. 

Accordingly, Mr. Dombey produced a list of sundry eastern 
magnates who were to be bidden to this feast on his behalf; 
to which Mrs. Skewton, acting for her dearest child, who was 
haughtily careless on the subject, subjoined a western list, com 
prising Cousin Feenix, not yet returned to Baden-Baden, 
greatly to the detriment of his personal estate ; and a variety 
of moths of various degrees and ages, who had, at various 
times, fluttered round the light of her fair daughter, or her 
self, without any lasting injury to their wings. Florence was 
enrolled as a member of the dinner-party, by Edith's command 
elicited by a moment's doubt and hesitation on the part 
of Mrs. Skewton ; and Florence, with a wondering heart, and 
with a quick instinctive sense of everything that grated on 



A DINNER OF STATE. 91 

her father in the least, took her silent share in the proceedings 
of the day. 

The proceedings commenced by Mr. Dombey, in a cravat of 
extraordinary height and stiffness, walking restlessly about the 
drawing-room until the hour appointed for dinner; punctual 
to which, an East India Director, of immense wealth, in a 
waistcoat apparently constructed in serviceable deal by some 
plain carpenter, but really engendered in the tailor's art, and 
composed of the material called nankeen, arrived, and was 
received by Mr. Dombey alone. The next stage of the pro 
ceedings was Mr. Dombey's sending his compliments to Mrs. 
Dombey, with a correct statement of the time ; and the next, 
the East India Director's falling prostrate, in a conversational 
point of view, and as Mr. Dombey was not the man to pick 
him up, staring at the fire until rescue appeared in the person 
of Mrs. Skewton; whom the director, as a pleasant start in 
life for the evening, mistook for Mrs. Dombey, and greeted 
with enthusiasm. 

The next arrival was a Bank Director, reputed to be able 
to buy up anything human Nature generally, if he should 
take it in his head to influence the money market in that 
direction but who was a wonderfully modest-spoken man, 
almost boastfully so, and mentioned his "little place" at 
Kingston-upon-Thames, and its just being barely equal to 
giving Dombey a bed and a chop, if he would come and 
visit it. Ladies, he said, it was not for a man who lived in 
his quiet way to take upon himself to invite but if Mrs. 
Skewton and her daughter, Mrs. Dombey, should ever find 
themselves in that direction, and would do him the honour 
to look at a little bit of a shrubbery they would find there, 
and a poor little flower-bed or so, and a humble apology for 
a pinery, and two or three little attempts of that sort without 
any pretension, they would distinguish him very much. Carry 
ing out his character, this gentleman was very plainly dressed, 
in a wisp of cambric for a neckcloth, big shoes, a coat that 
was too loose for him, and a pair of trousers that were too 



92 DOMBEY AND SON. 

spare ; and mention being made of the Opera by Mrs. Skewton, 
he said he very seldom went there, for he couldn't afford it. 
It seemed greatly to delight and exhilarate him to say so: 
and he beamed on his audience afterwards, with his hands in 
his pockets, and excessive satisfaction twinkling in his eyes. 

Now Mrs. Dombey appeared, beautiful and proud, and as 
disdainful and defiant of them all as if the bridal wreath upon 
her head had been a garland of steel spikes put on to force 
concession from her which she would die sooner than yield. 
With her was Florence. When they entered together, the 
shadow of the night of the return again darkened Mr. 
Dombey's face. But unobserved : for Florence did not venture 
to raise her eyes to his, and Edith's indifference was too 
supreme to take the least heed of him. 

The arrivals quickly became numerous. More directors, 
chairmen of public companies, elderly ladies carrying burdens 
on their heads for full dress, Cousin Feenix, Major Bagstock, 
friends of Mrs. Skewton, with the same bright bloom on their 
complexion, and very precious necklaces on very withered 
necks. Among these, a young lady of sixty-five, remarkably 
coolly dressed as to her back and shoulders, who spoke with 
an engaging lisp, and whose eyelids wouldn't keep up well, 
without a great deal of trouble on her part, and whose 
manners had that indefinable charm which so frequently 
attaches to the giddiness of youth. As the greater part of 
Mr. Dombey's list were disposed to be taciturn, and the 
greater part of Mrs. Dombey's list were disposed to be 
talkative, and there was no sympathy between them, Mrs. 
Dombey's list, by magnetic agreement, entered into a bond 
of union against Mr. Dombey's list, who, wandering about 
the rooms in a desolate manner, or seeking refuge in corners, 
entangled themselves with company coming in, and became 
barricaded behind sofas, and had doors opened smartly from 
without against their heads, and underwent every sort of 
discomfiture. 

When dinner was announced, Mr. Dombey took down an 



MR. DOMBEY IN A NEW CHARACTER. 93 

old lady like a crimson velvet pincushion stuffed with bank 
notes, who might have been the identical old lady of Thread- 
needle Street, she was so rich, and looked so unaccommo 
dating; Cousin Feenix took down Mrs. Dombey; Major 
Bagstock took down Mrs. Skewton ; the young thing with 
the shoulders was bestowed, as an extinguisher, upon the 
East India Director; and the remaining ladies were left on 
view in the drawing-room by the remaining gentlemen, until 
a forlorn hope volunteered to conduct them down stairs, and 
those brave spirits with their captives blocked up the dining- 
room door, shutting out seven mild men in the stony-hearted 
hall. When all the rest were got in and were seated, one of 
these mild men still appeared, in smiling confusion, totally 
destitute and unprovided for, and escorted by the butler, 
made the complete circuit of the table twice before his chair 
could be found, which it finally was, on Mrs. Dombey's left 
hand; after which the mild man never held up his head 
again. 

Now, the spacious dining-room, with the company seated 
round the glittering table, busy with their glittering spoons, 
and knives and forks, and plates, might have been taken for 
a grown-up exposition of Tom Tiddler's ground, where children 
pick up gold and silver. Mr. Dombey, as Tiddler, looked his 
character to admiration; and the long plateau of precious 
metal frosted, separating him from Mrs. Dombey, whereon 
frosted Cupids offered scentless flowers to each of them, was 
allegorical to see. 

Cousin Feenix was in great force, and looked astonishingly 
young. But he was sometimes thoughtless in his good humour 
his memory occasionally wandering like his legs and on this 
occasion caused the company to shudder. It happened thus. 
The young lady with the back, who regarded Cousin Feenix 
with sentiments of tenderness, had entrapped the East India 
Director into leading her to the chair next him ; in return 
for which good office, she immediately abandoned the Director, 
who, being shaded on the other side by a gloomy black velvet 



94 DOMBEY AND SON. 

hat surmounting a bony and speechless female with a fan, 
yielded to a depression of spirits and withdrew into himself. 
Cousin Feenix and the young lady were very lively and 
humorous, and the young lady laughed so much at something 
Cousin Feenix related to her, that Major Bagstock begged 
leave to inquire on behalf of Mrs. Skewton (they were sitting 
opposite, a little lower down), whether that might not be 
considered public property. 

" Why, upon my life," said Cousin Feenix, " there's nothing 
in it ; it really is not worth repeating : in point of fact, it's 
merely an anecdote of Jack Adams. I dare say my friend 
Dombey;" for the general attention was concentrated on 
Cousin Feenix; "may remember Jack Adams, Jack Adams, 
not Joe ; that was his brother. Jack little Jack man with 
a cast in his eye, and slight impediment in his speech man 
who sat for somebody's borough. We used to call him in my 
parliamentary time W. P. Adams, in consequence of his being 
Warming Pan for a young fellow who was in his minority. 
Perhaps my friend Dombey may have known the man ? " 

Mr. Dombey, who was as likely to have known Guy Fawkes, 
replied in the negative. But one of the seven mild men 
unexpectedly leaped into distinction, by saying he had known 
him, and adding " always wore Hessian boots ! " 

" Exactly," said Cousin Feenix, bending forward to see the 
mild man, and smile encouragement at him down the table. 
" That was Jack. Joe wore " 

** Tops ! " cried the mild man, rising in public estimation 
every instant. 

" Of course," said Cousin Feenix, " you were intimate with 
'em?" 

"I knew them both," said the mild man. With whom 
Mr. Dombey immediately took wine. 

" Devilish good fellow, Jack ! " said Cousin Feenix, again 
bending forward, and smiling. 

"Excellent," returned the mild man, becoming bold on his 
success. " One of the best fellows I ever knew." 



AN APPROPRIATE AND AGREEABLE JOKE. 95 

" No doubt you have heard the story ? " said Cousin 
Feenix. 

"I shall know, 1 ' replied the bold mild man, "when I have 
heard your Ludship tell it." With that, he leaned back in 
his chair and smiled at the ceiling, as knowing it by heart, 
and being already tickled. 

"In point of fact, it's nothing of a story in itself," said 
Cousin Feenix, addressing the table with a smile, and a gay 
shake of his head, "and not worth a word of preface. But 
ifs illustrative of the neatness of Jack's humour. The fact 
is, that Jack was invited down to a marriage which I think 
took place in Barkshire?" 

"Shropshire, 1 " said the bold mild man, finding himself 
appealed to. 

" Was it ? Well ! In point of fact it might have been 
in any shire, 1 ' said Cousin Feenix. "So my friend being 
invited down to this marriage in Anyshire," with a pleasant 
sense of the readiness of this joke, "goes. Just as some of 
us, having had the honour of being invited to the marriage 
of my lovely and accomplished relative with my friend 
Dombey, didn't require to be asked twice, and were devilish 
glad to be present on so interesting an occasion. Goes 
Jack goes. Now, this marriage was, in point of fact, the 
marriage of an uncommonly fine girl with a man for whom 
she didn't care a button, but whom she accepted on account 
of his property, which was immense. When Jack returned 
to town, after the nuptials, a man he knew, meeting him in 
the lobby of the House of Commons, says, ' Well, Jack, how 
are the ill-matched couple ? ' ' Ill-matched,' says Jack. ' Not 
at all. It's a perfectly fair and equal transaction. Site is 
regularly bought, and you may take your oath he is as 
regularly sold!'" 

In his full enjoyment of this culminating point of his story, 
the shudder, which had gone all round the table like an 
electric spark, struck Cousin Feenix, and he stopped. Not 
a smile occasioned by the only general topic of conversation 



96 DOMBEY AND SON. 

broached that day, appeared on any face. A profound 
silence ensued ; and the wretched mild man, who had been 
as innocent of any real foreknowledge of the story as the 
child unborn, had the exquisite misery of reading in every 
eye that he was regarded as the prime mover of the mischief. 

Mr. Dombey's face was not a changeful one, and being 
cast in its mould of state that day, showed little other 
apprehension of the story, if any, than that which he 
expressed when he said solemnly, amidst the silence, that 
it was "Very good." There was a rapid glance from Edith 
towards Florence, but otherwise she remained, externally, 
impassive and unconscious. 

Through the various stages of rich meats and wines, 
continual gold and silver, dainties of earth, air, fire, and 
water, heaped-up fruits, and that unnecessary article in Mr. 
Dombey's banquets ice the dinner slowly made its way: 
the later stages being achieved to the sonorous music of 
incessant double knocks, announcing the arrival of visitors, 
whose portion of the feast was limited to the smell thereof. 
When Mrs. Dombey rose, it was a sight to see her lord, 
with stiff throat and erect head, hold the door open for the 
withdrawal of the ladies; and to see how she swept past 
him with his daughter on her arm. 

Mr. Dombey was a grave sight, behind the decanters, in a 
state of dignity ; and the East India Director was a forlorn 
sight near the unoccupied end of the table, in a state of 
solitude ; and the Major was a military sight, relating stories 
of the Duke of York to six of the seven mild men (the 
ambitious one was utterly quenched) ; and the Bank Director 
was a lowly sight, making a plan of his little attempt at 
a pinery, with dessert-knives, for a group of admirers; and 
Cousin Feenix was a thoughtful sight, as he smoothed his 
long wristbands and stealthily adjusted his wig. But all 
these sights were of short duration, being speedily broken 
up by coffee, and the desertion of the room. 

There was a throng in the state-rooms up stairs, increasing 



PERPLEXING THOUGHTS. 97 

every minute ; but still Mr. Dombey's list of visitors appeared 
to have some native impossibility of amalgamation with Mrs. 
Dombey's list, and no one could have doubted which was 
which. The single exception to this rule perhaps was Mr. 
Carker, who now smiled among the company, and who, as 
he stood in the circle that was gathered about Mrs. Dombey 
watchful of her, of them, his chief, Cleopatra and the 
Major, Florence, and everything around appeared at ease 
with both divisions of guests, and not marked as exclusively 
belonging to either. 

Florence had a dread of him, which made his presence in 
the room a nightmare to her. She could not avoid the 
recollection of it, for her eyes were drawn towards him 
every now and then, by an attraction of dislike and distrust 
that she could not resist. Yet her thoughts were busy with 
other things; for as she sat apart not unadmired or un 
sought, but in the gentleness of her quiet spirit she felt 
how little part her father had in what was going on, and 
saw, with pain, how ill at ease he seemed to be, and how 
little regarded he was as he lingered about near the door, 
for those visitors whom he wished to distinguish with 
particular attention, and took them up to introduce them 
to his wife, who received them with proud coldness, but 
showed no interest or wish to please, and never, after the 
bare ceremony of reception, in consultation of his wishes, 
or in welcome of his friends, opened her lips. It was not 
the less perplexing or painful to Florence, that she who 
acted thus, treated her so kindly and with such loving 
consideration, that it almost seemed an ungrateful return 
on her part even to know of what was passing before her . 
eyes. 

Happy Florence would have been, might she have ventured 
to bear her father company, by so much as a look : and 
happy Florence was, in little suspecting the main cause of 
his uneasiness. But afraid of seeming to know that he was 
placed at any disadvantage, lest he should be resentful of 

VOL. II. H 



98 DOMBEY AND SON. 

that knowledge; and divided between her impulse towards 
him, and her grateful affection for Edith; she scarcely dared 
to raise her eyes towards either. Anxious and unhappy for 
them both, the thought stole on her through the crowd, that 
it might have been better for them if this noise of tongues 
and tread of feet had never come there, if the old dulness 
and decay had never been replaced by novelty and splendour, 
if the neglected child had found no friend in Edith, but 
had lived her solitary life, unpitied and forgotten. 

Mrs. Chick had some such thoughts too, but they were 
not so quietly developed in her mind. This good matron 
had been outraged in the first instance by not receiving an 
invitation to dinner. That blow partially recovered, she had 
gone to a vast expense to make such a figure before Mrs. 
Dombey at home, as should dazzle the senses of that lady, 
and heap mortification, mountains high, on the head of 
Mrs. Skewton. 

" But I am made,"" said Mrs. Chick to Mr. Chick, " of no 
more account than Florence ! Who takes the smallest notice 
of me ? No one ! " 

"No one, my dear," assented Mr. Chick, who was seated 
by the side of Mrs. Chick against the wall, and could console 
himself, even there, by softly whistling. 

" Does it at all appear as if I was wanted here ? " exclaimed 
Mi's. Chick, with flashing eyes. 

" No, my dear, I don't think it does, 1 ' said Mr. Chick. 

"Paul's mad!" said Mrs. Chick. 

Mr. Chick whistled. 

"Unless you are a monster, which I sometimes think you 
are," said Mrs. Chick with candour, " don't sit there humming 
tunes. How any one with the most distant feelings of a 
man, can see that mother-in law of Paul's, dressed as she is, 
going on like that, with Major Bagstock, for whom, among 
other precious things, we are indebted to your Lucretia 
Tox " 

" My Lucretia Tox, my dear ! " said Mr. Chick, astounded. 



INCOMPATIBILITIES. 99 

"Yes," retorted Mrs. Chick, with great severity, "your 
Lucretia Tox I say how anybody can see that mother-in-law 
of Paul's, and that haughty wife of Paul's, and these indecent 
old frights with their backs and shoulders, and in short this 
at home generally, and hum ," on which word Mrs. Chick 
laid a scornful emphasis that made Mr. Chick start, "is, I 
thank Heaven, a mystery to me ! " 

Mr. Chick screwed his mouth into a form irreconcileable 
with humming or whistling, and looked very contemplative. 

"But I hope I know what is due to myself," said Mrs. 
Chick, swelling with indignation, " though Paul has forgotten 
what is due to me. I am not going to sit here, a member 
of this family, to be taken no notice of. I am not the dirt 
under Mrs. Dombey's feet, yet not quite yet," said Mrs. 
Chick, as if she expected to become so, about the day after 
to-morrow. "And I shall go. I will not say (whatever I 
may think) that this affair has been got up solely to degrade 
and insult me. I shall merely go. I shall not be missed ! " 

Mrs. Chick rose erect with these words, and took the arm 
of Mr. Chick, who escorted her from the room, after half an 
hour's shady sojourn there. And it is due to her penetration 
to observe that she certainly was not missed at all. 

But she was not the only indignant guest; for Mr. 
Dombey's list (still constantly in difficulties) were, as a 
body, indignant with Mrs. Dombey's list, for looking at them 
through eye-glasses, and audibly wondering who all those 
people were; while Mrs. Dombey's list complained of weari 
ness, and the young thing with the shoulders, deprived of 
the attentions of that gay youth Cousin Feenix (who went 
away from the dinner-table), confidentially alleged to thirty 
or forty friends that she was bored to death. All the old 
ladies with the burdens on their heads, had greater or less 
cause of complaint against Mrs. Dombey ; and the Directors 
and Chairmen coincided in thinking that if Dombey must 
marry, he had better have married somebody nearer his own 
age, not quite so handsome, and a little better off. The 



100 DOMBEY AND SON. 

general opinion among this class of gentlemen was, that it 
was a weak thing in Dombey, and he'd live to repent it. 
Hardly anybody there, except the mild men, stayed, or went 
away, without considering himself or herself neglected and 
aggrieved by Mr. Dombey or Mrs. Dombey ; and the speech 
less female in the black velvet hat was found to have been 
stricken mute, because the lady in the crimson velvet had 
been handed down before her. The nature even of the mild 
men got corrupted, either from their curdling it with too 
much lemonade, or from the general inoculation that pre 
vailed ; and they made sarcastic jokes to one another, and 
whispered disparagement on stairs and in bye-places. The 
general dissatisfaction and discomfort so diffused itself, that 
the assembled footmen in the hall were as well acquainted 
with it as the company above. Nay, the very linkmen outside 
got hold of it, and compared the party to a funeral out of 
mourning, with none of the company remembered in the will. 

At last, the guests were all gone, and the linkmen too; 
and the street, crowded so long with carriages, was clear; 
and the dying lights showed no one in the rooms, but Mr. 
Dombey and Mr. Carker, who were talking together apart, 
and Mrs. Dombey and her mother : the former seated on an 
ottoman ; the latter reclining in the Cleopatra attitude, 
awaiting the arrival of her maid. Mr. Dombey having 
finished his communication to Carker, the latter advanced 
obsequiously to take leave. 

" I trust," he said, " that the fatigues of this delightful 
evening will not inconvenience Mrs. Dombey to-morrow."" 

"Mrs. Dombey, 11 said Mr. Dombey, advancing, "has suffi 
ciently spared herself fatigue, to relieve you from any anxiety 
of that kind. I regret to say, Mrs. Dombey, that I could 
have wished you had fatigued yourself a little more on this 
occasion. 1 " 

She looked at him with a supercilious glance, that it 
seemed not worth her while to protract, and turned away 
her eyes without speaking. 



A SLIGHT DIFFERENCE. 101 

" I am sorry, Madam," said Mr. Dombey, " that you should 
not have thought it your duty " 

She looked at him again. 

"Your duty, Madam," pursued Mr. Dombey, "to have 
received my friends with a little more deference. Some of 
those whom you have been pleased to slight to-nfght in a 
very marked manner, Mrs. Dombey, confer a distinction upon 
you, I must tell you, in any visit they pay you." 

" Do you know that there is some one here ? " she returned, 
now looking at him steadily. 

" No ! Carker ! I beg that you do not. I insist that you 
do not," cried Mr. Dombey, stopping that noiseless gentleman 
in his withdrawal. "Mr. Carker, Madam, as you know, 
possesses my confidence. He is as well acquainted as myself 
with the subject on which I speak. I beg to tell you, for 
your information, Mrs. Dombey, that I consider these wealthy 
and important persons confer a distinction upon me: and 
Mr. Dombey drew himself up, as having now rendered them 
of the highest possible importance. 

"I ask you," she repeated, bending her disdainful, steady 
gaze upon him, "do you know that there is some one here, 
Sir?" 

"I must entreat," said Mr. Carker, stepping forward, "I 
must beg, I must demand, to be released. Slight and 
unimportant as this difference is " 

Mrs. Skewton, who had been intent upon her daughter's 
face, took him up here. 

"My sweetest Edith," she said, "and my dearest Dombey; 
our excellent friend Mr. Carker, for so I am sure I ought to 
mention him " 

Mr. Carker murmured, " Too much honour." 

" has used the very words that were in my mind, and 
that I have been dying, these ages, for an opportunity of 
introducing. Slight and unimportant ! My sweetest Edith, 
and my dearest Dombey, do we not know that any difference 
between you two No, Flowers ; not now." 



102 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Flowers was the maid, who, finding gentlemen present, 
retreated with precipitation. 

"That any difference between you two,"" resumed Mrs. 
Skewton, " with the Heart you possess in common, and the 
excessively charming bond of feeling that there is between 
you, must be slight and unimportant? What words could 
better define the fact ? None. Therefore I am glad to take 
this slight occasion this trifling occasion, that is so replete 
with Nature, and your individual characters, and all that 
so truly calculated to bring the tears into a parent's eyes 
to say that I attach no importance to them in the least, 
except as developing these minor elements of Soul ; and that, 
unlike most mamas-in-law (that odious phrase, dear Dombey !) 
as they have been represented to me to exist in this I fear 
too artificial world, I never shall attempt to interpose between 
you, at such a time, and never can much regret, after all, 
such little flashes of the torch of What's-his-name not Cupid, 
but the other delightful creature. 11 

There was a sharpness in the good mother's glance at both 
her children as she spoke, that may have been expressive of 
a direct and Avell-considered purpose hidden between these 
rambling words. That purpose, providently to detach herself 
in the beginning from all the clankings of their chain that 
were to come, and to shelter herself with the fiction of her 
innocent belief in their mutual affection, and their adaptation 
to each other. 

" I have pointed out to Mrs. Dombey," said Mr. Dombey, 
in his most stately manner, " that in her conduct thus early 
in our married life, to which I object, and which, I request, 
may be corrected. Carker," with a nod of dismissal, "good 
night to you ! " 

Mr. Carker bowed to the imperious form of the Bride, 
whose sparkling eye was fixed upon her husband; and stop 
ping at Cleopatra"^ couch on his way out, raised to his lips 
the hand she graciously extended to him, in lowly and 
admiring homage. 



A DEEPENING SHADOW. 103 

If his handsome wife had reproached him, or even changed 
countenance, or broken the silence in which she remained, by 
one word, now that they were alone (for Cleopatra made off 
with all speed), Mr. Dombey would have been equal to some 
assertion of his case against her. But the intense, unutter 
able, withering scorn, with which, after looking upon him, 
she dropped her eyes, as if he were too worthless and 
indifferent to her to be challenged with a syllable the 
ineffable disdain and haughtiness in which she sat before him 
the cold inflexible resolve with which her every feature 
seemed to bear him down, and put him by these, he had 
no resource against; and he left her, with her whole over 
bearing beauty concentrated on despising him. 

Was he coward enough to watch her, an hour afterwards, 
on the old well staircase, where he had once seen Florence in 
the moonlight, toiling up with Paul ? Or was he in the dark 
by accident, when, looking up, he saw her coming, with a 
light, from the room where Florence lay, and marked again 
the face so changed, which he could not subdue? 

But it could never alter as his own did. It never, in its 
utmost pride and passion, knew the shadow that had fallen 
on his, in the dark corner, on the night of the return ; and 
often since ; and which deepened on it now as he looked up. 



CHAPTER XXXVII. 

MORE WARNINGS THAN ONE. 

FLORENCE, Edith, and Mrs. Skewton were together next day, 
and the carriage was waiting at the door to take them out. 
For Cleopatra had her galley again now, and Withers, no 
longer the wan, stood upright in a pigeon-breasted jacket and 
military trousers, behind her wheel-less chair at dinner-time, 
and butted no more. The hair of Withers was radiant with 
pomatum, in these days of down, and he wore kid gloves and 
smelt of the water of Cologne. 

They were assembled in Cleopatra's room. The Serpent of 
old Nile (not to mention her disrespectfully) was reposing on 
her sofa, sipping her morning chocolate at three o'clock in the 
afternoon, and Flowers the Maid was fastening on her youthful 
cuffs and frills, and performing a kind of private coronation 
ceremony on her, with a peach-coloured velvet bonnet; the 
artificial roses in which nodded to uncommon advantage, as 
the palsy trifled with them, like a breeze. 

" I think I am a little nervous this morning, Flowers," said 
Mrs. Skewton. " My hand quite shakes." 

"You were the life of the party last night, Ma'am, 
you know,' 1 returned Flowers, "and you suffer for it, to-day, 
you see." 

Edith, who had beckoned Florence to the window, and was 
looking out, with her back turned on the toilet of her esteemed 
mother, suddenly withdrew from it, as if it had lightened. 



A VISIT ON BUSINESS. 105 

" My darling child," cried Cleopatra, languidly, "you are 
not nervous? Don't tell me, my dear Edith, that you, so 
enviably self-possessed, are beginning to be a martyr too, like 
your unfortunately constituted mother ! Withers, some one 
at the door." 

"Card, Ma'am," said Withers, taking it towards Mrs. 
Dombey. 

"I am going out," she said without looking at it. 

"My dear love," drawled Mrs. Skewton, "how very odd to 
send that message without seeing the name ! Bring it here, 
Withers. Dear me, my love ; Mr. Carker, too ! That very 
sensible person ! " 

"I am going out," repeated Edith, in so imperious a tone 
that Withers, going to the door, imperiously informed the 
servant who was waiting, "Mrs. Dombey is going out. Get 
along with you," and shut it on him. 

But the servant came back after a short absence, and 
whispered to Withers again, who once more, and not very 
willingly, presented himself before Mrs. Dombey. 

"If you please, Ma'am, Mr. Carker sends his respectful 
compliments, and begs you would spare him one minute, if 
you could for business, Ma'am, if you please." 

" Really, my love," said Mrs. Skewton in her mildest manner ; 
for her daughter's face was threatening ; " if you would allow 
me to offer a word, I should recommend " 

" Show him this way," said Edith. As Withers disappeared 
to execute the command, she added, frowning on her mother, 
" As he comes at your recommendation, let him come to your 
room." 

" May I shall I go away ? " asked Florence, hurriedly. 

Edith nodded yes, but on her way to the door Florence met 
the visitor coming in. With the same disagreeable mixture of 
familiarity and forbearance with which he had first addressed 
her, he addressed her now in his softest manner hoped she 
was quite well needed not to ask, with such looks to anti 
cipate the answer had scarcely had the honour to know her, 



106 DOMBEY AND SON. 

last night, she was so greatly changed and held the door 
open for her to pass out ; with a secret sense of power in her 
shrinking from him, that all the deference and politeness of 
his manner could not quite conceal. 

He then bowed himself for a moment over Mrs. Skewton's 
condescending hand, and lastly bowed to Edith. Coldly 
returning his salute without looking at him, and neither 
seating herself nor inviting him to be seated, she waited for 
him to speak. 

Entrenched in her pride and power, and with all the obduracy 
of her spirit summoned about her, still her old conviction that 
she and her mother had been known by this man in their 
worst colours, from their first acquaintance ; that every degra 
dation she had suffered in her own eyes was as plain to him 
as to herself; that he read her life as though it were a vile 
book, and fluttered the leaves before her in slight looks and 
tones of voice which no one else could detect; weakened and 
undermined her. Proudly as she opposed herself to him, with 
her commanding face exacting his humility, her disdainful lip 
repulsing him, her bosom angry at his intrusion, and the dark 
lashes of her eyes sullenly veiling their light, that no ray of 
it might shine upon him and submissively as he stood before 
her, with an entreating injured manner, but with complete 
submission to her will she knew, in her own soul, that the 
cases were reversed, and that the triumph and superiority were 
his, and that he knew it full well. 

" I have presumed," said Mr. Carker, " to solicit an interview, 
and I have ventured to describe it as being one of business, 
because " 

" Perhaps you are charged by Mr. Dombey with some message 
of reproof, 11 said Edith. " You possess Mr. Dombey's confidence 
in such an unusual degree, Sir, that you would scarcely surprise 
me if that were your business. 11 

" I have no message to the lady who sheds a lustre upon his 
name, 11 said Mr. Carker. "But I entreat that lady, on my 
own behalf, to be just to a very humble claimant for justice 



MR. CAREER THE MANAGER, MANAGES. 107 

at her hands a mere dependant of Mr. Dombey's which is 
a position of humility ; and to reflect upon my perfect help 
lessness last night, and the impossibility of my avoiding the 
share that was forced upon me in a very painful occasion. 1 ' 

"My dearest Edith, 11 hinted Cleopatra in a low voice, as 
she held her eye-glass aside, "really very charming of Mr. 
What's-his-name. And full of heart ! " 

"For I do, 11 said Mr. Carker, appealing to Mrs. Skewton 
with a look of grateful deference, " I do venture to call it a 
painful occasion, though merely because it was so to me, who 
had the misfortune to be present. So slight a difference, as 
between the principals between those who love each other 
with disinterested devotion, and would make any sacrifice of 
self, in such a cause is nothing. As Mrs. Skewton herself 
expressed, with so much truth and feeling last night, it is 
nothing. 11 

Edith could not look at him, but she said after a few moments, 
"And your business, Sir " 

" Edith, my pet, 11 said Mrs. Skewton, " all this time Mr. 
Carker is standing ! My dear Mr. Carker, take a seat, I beg. 11 
He offered no reply to the mother, but fixed his eyes on 
the proud daughter, as though he would only be bidden by 
her, and was resolved to be bidden by her. Edith, in spite 
of herself, sat down, and slightly motioned with her hand to 
him to be seated too. No action could be colder, haughtier, 
more insolent in its air of supremacy and disrespect, but she 
had struggled against even that concession ineffectually, and 
it was wrested from her. That was enough ! Mr. Carker 
sat down. 

" May I be allowed, Madam, 1 ' said Carker, turning his white 
teeth on Mrs. Skewton like a light " a lady of your excellent 
sense and quick feeling will give me credit, for good reason, 
I am sure to address what I have to say, to Mrs. Dombey, 
and to leave her to impart it to you who are her best and 
dearest friend next to Mr. Dombey ? 11 

Mrs. Skewton would have retired, but Edith stopped her. 



108 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Edith would have stopped him too, and indignantly ordered 
him to speak openly or not at all, but that he said, in a low 
voice "Miss Florence the young lady who has just left the 
room 11 

Edith suffered him to. proceed. She looked at him now. 
As he bent forward, to be nearer, with the utmost show of 
delicacy and respect, and with his teeth persuasively arrayed, 
in a self-depreciating smile, she felt as if she could have struck 
him dead. 

" Miss Florence^ position, 11 he began, " has been an unfor 
tunate one. I have a difficulty in alluding to it to you, whose 
attachment to her father is naturally watchful and jealous of 
every word that applies to him. 11 Always distinct and soft 
in speech, no language could describe the extent of his 
distinctness and softness, when he said these words, or came 
to any others of a similar import. "But, as one who is 
devoted to Mr. Dombey in his different way, and whose life 
is passed in admiration of Mr. Dombey 1 s character, may I say, 
without offence to your tenderness as a wife, that Miss Florence 
has unhappily been neglected by her father ? May I say 
by her father? 11 

Edith replied, " I know it. 11 

" You know it ! " said Mr. Carker, with a great appearance 
of relief. "It removes a mountain from my breast. May I 
hope you know how the neglect originated ; in what an amiable 
phase of Mr. Dombey 1 s pride character I mean ? " 

" You may pass that by, Sir, 11 she returned, " and come the 
sooner to the end of what you have to say. 11 

" Indeed, I am sensible, Madam, 11 replied Carker, " trust 
me, I am deeply sensible, that Mr. Dombey can require np 
justification in anything to you. But, kindly judge of my 
breast by your own, and you will forgive my interest in him, 
if in its excess, it goes at all astray. 11 

What a stab to her proud heart, to sit there, face to face 
with him, and have him tendering her false oath at the altar 
again and again for her acceptance, and pressing it upon her 



INTEREST IN MISS FLORENCE. 100 

like the dregs of a sickening cup she could not own her 
loathing of, or turn away from ! How shame, remorse, and 
passion raged within her, when, upright and majestic in her 
beauty before him, she knew that in her spirit she was down 
at his feet ! 

" Miss Florence," said Carker, " left to the care if one may 
call it care of servants and mercenary people, in every way 
her inferiors, necessarily wanted some guide and compass in her 
younger days, and, naturally, for want of them, has been indis 
creet, and has in some degree forgotten her station. There 
was some folly about one Walter, a common lad, who is 
fortunately dead now : and some very undesirable association, 
I regret to say, with certain coasting sailors, of anything but 
good repute, and a runaway old bankrupt." 

"I have heard the circumstances, Sir," said Edith, flashing 
her disdainful glance upon him, " and I know that you pervert 
them. You may not know it, I hope so." 

"Pardon me," said Mr. Carker, "I believe that nobody 
knows them so well as I. Your generous and ardent nature, 
Madam the same nature which is so nobly imperative in 
vindication of your beloved and honoured husband, and which 
has blessed him as even his merits deserve I must respect, 
defer to, bow before. But, as regards the circumstances, which 
is indeed the business I presumed to solicit your attention 
to, I can have no doubt, since, in the execution of my trust 
as Mr. Dombey's confidential I presume to say friend, I 
have fully ascertained them. In my execution of that trust ; 
in my deep concern, which you can so well understand, for 
everything relating to him, intensified, if you will (for I fear 
I labour under your displeasure), by the lower motive of desire 
to prove my diligence, and make myself the more acceptable ; 
I have long pursued these circumstances by myself and trust 
worthy instruments, and have innumerable and most minute 
proofs." 

She raised her eyes no higher than his mouth, but she saw 
the means of mischief vaunted in every tooth it contained. 



110 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Pardon me, Madam," he continued, " if in my perplexity, 
I presume to take counsel with you, and to consult your 
pleasure. I think I have observed that you are greatly 
interested in Miss Florence? 1 ' 

What was there in her he had not observed, and did not 
know ? Humbled and yet maddened by the thought, in every 
new presentment of it, however faint, she pressed her teeth 
upon her quivering lip to force composure on it, and distantly 
inclined her head in reply. 

" This interest, Madam so touching an evidence of every 
thing associated with Mr. Dombey being dear to you induces 
me to pause before I make him acquainted with these circum 
stances, which, as yet, he does not know. It so far shakes 
me, if I may make the confession, in my allegiance, that on 
the intimation of the least desire to that effect from you, I 
would suppress them." 

Edith raised her head quickly, and starting back, bent her 
dark glance upon him. He met it with his blandest and 
most deferential smile, and went on. 

"You say that as I describe them, they are perverted. I 
fear not I fear not : but let us assume that they are. The 
uneasiness I have for some time felt on the subject, arises in 
this; that the mere circumstance of such association often 
repeated, on the part of Miss Florence, however innocently 
and confidingly, would be conclusive with Mr. Dombey, already 
predisposed against her, and would lead him to take some step 
(I know he has occasionally contemplated it) of separation 
and alienation of her from his home. Madam, bear with me, 
and remember my intercourse with Mr. Dombey, and my 
knowledge of him, and my reverence for him, almost from 
childhood, when I say that if he has a fault, it is a lofty 
stubbornness, rooted in that noble pride and sense of power 
which belong to him, and which we must all defer to; which 
is not assailable like the obstinacy of other characters ; and 
which grows upon itself from day to day, and year to year." 
She bent her glance upon him still ; but, look as steadfast 



THE MANAGER CARRIES HIS POINT. Ill 

as she would, her haughty nostrils dilated, and her breath 
came somewhat deeper, and her lip would slightly curl, as he 
described that in his patron to which they must all bow 
down. He saw it ; and though his expression did not change, 
she knew he saw it. 

" Even so slight an incident as last nightV ne sa id> " if I 
might refer to it once more, would serve to illustrate my 
meaning, better than a greater one. Dombey and Son know 
neither time, nor place, nor season, but bear them all down. 
But I rejoice in its occurrence, for it has opened the way for 
me to approach Mrs. Dombey with this subject to-day, even 
if it has entailed upon me the penalty of her temporary dis 
pleasure. Madam, in the midst of my uneasiness and appre 
hension on this subject, I was summoned by Mr. Dombey to 
Leamington. There I saw you. There I could not help 
knowing what relation you would shortly occupy towards him 
to his enduring happiness and yours. There I resolved to 
await the time of your establishment at home here, and to do 
as I have now done. I have, at heart, no fear that I shall be 
wanting in my duty to Mr. Dombey, if I bury what I know 
in your breast; for where there is but one heart and mind 
between two persons as in such a marriage one almost 
represents the other. I can acquit my conscience therefore, 
almost equally, by confidence, on such a theme, in you or him. 
For the reasons I have mentioned I would select you. May I 
aspire to the distinction of believing that my confidence is 
accepted, and that I am relieved from my responsibility?" 

He long remembered the look she gave him who could see 
it, and forget it ? and the struggle that ensued within her. 
At last she said : 

" I accept it, Sir. You will please to consider this matter 
at an end, and that it goes no farther. 1 ' 

He bowed low, and rose. She rose too, and he took leave 
with all humility. But Withers, meeting him on the stairs, 
stood amazed at the beauty of his teeth, and at his brilliant 
smile; and as he rode away upon his white-legged horse, the 



DOMBEY AND SON. 

people took him for a dentist, such was the dazzling show he 
made. The people took her, when she rode out in her carriage 
presently, for a great lady, as happy as she was rich and fine. 
But they had not seen her, just before, in her own room with 
no one by ; and they had not heard her utterance of the three 
words, " Oh Florence, Florence ! " 

Mrs. Skewton, reposing on her sofa, and sipping her chocolate, 
had heard nothing but the low word business, for which she 
had a mortal aversion, insomuch that she had long banished 
it from her vocabulary, and had gone nigh, in a charming 
manner and with an immense amount of heart, to say nothing 
of soul, to ruin divers milliners and others in consequence. 
Therefore Mrs. Skewton asked no questions, and showed no 
curiosity. Indeed, the peach-velvet bonnet gave her sufficient 
occupation out of doors; for being perched on the back of 
her head, and the day being rather windy, it was frantic to 
escape from Mrs. Skewton's company, and would be coaxed 
into no sort of compromise. When the carriage was closed, 
and the wind shut out, the palsy played among the artificial 
roses again like an almshouse-full- of superannuated zephyrs ; 
and altogether Mrs. Skewton had enough to do, and got on 
but indifferently. 

She got on no better towards night ; for when Mrs. Dombey, 
in her dressing-room, had been dressed and waiting for her 
half an hour, and Mr. Dombey, in the drawing-room, had 
paraded himself into a state of solemn fretfulness (they were 
all three going out to dinner), Flowers the Maid appeared with 
a pale face to Mrs. Dombey, saying : 

" If you please, Ma'am, I beg your pardon, but I can't do 
nothing with Missis ! " 

" What do you mean ? " asked Edith. 

" Well, Ma'am," replied the frightened maid, " I hardly 
know. She's making faces ! " 

Edith hurried with her to her mother's room. Cleopatra 
was arrayed in full dress, with the diamonds, short sleeves, rouge, 
curls, teeth, and other juvenility all complete; but Paralysis 



CLEOPATRA RECEIVES A WARNING. 113 

was not to be deceived, had known her for the object of its 
errand, and had struck her at her glass, where she lay like a 
horrible doll that had tumbled down. 

They took her to pieces in very shame, and put the little 
of her that was real on a bed. Doctors were sent for, and 
soon came. Powerful remedies were resorted to; opinions 
given that she would rally from this shock, but would not 
survive another ; and there she lay speechless, and staring at 
the ceiling for days ; sometimes making inarticulate sounds in 
answer to such questions as did she know who were present, 
and the like : sometimes giving no reply either by sign or 
gesture, or in her unwinking eyes. 

At length she began to recover consciousness, and in some 
degree the power of motion, though not yet of speech. One 
day the use of her right hand returned; and showing it to 
her maid who was in attendance on her, and appearing very 
uneasy in her mind, she made signs for a pencil and some 
paper. This the maid immediately provided, thinking she was 
going to make a will, or write some last request ; and Mrs. 
Dombey being from home, the maid awaited the result with 
solemn feelings. 

After much painful scrawling and erasing, and putting in of 
wrong characters, which seemed to tumble out of the pencil 
of their own accord, the old woman produced this document : 

" Rose-coloured curtains." 

The maid being perfectly transfixed, and with tolerable 
reason, Cleopatra amended the manuscript by adding two words 
more, when it stood thus : 

"Rose-coloured curtains for doctors." 

The maid now perceived remotely that she wished these 
articles to be provided for the better presentation of her 
complexion to the faculty ; and as those in the house who 
knew her best, had no doubt of the correctness of this opinion, 
which she was soon able to establish for herself, the rose- 
coloured curtains were added to her bed, and she mended with 
increased rapidity from that hour. She was soon able to sit 

VOL. ii. i 



114 DOMBEY AND SON. 

up, in curls and a laced cap and night-gown, and to have a 
little artificial bloom dropped into the hollow caverns of her 
cheeks. 

It was a tremendous sight to see this old woman in her 
finery leering and mincing at Death, and playing off her 
youthful tricks upon him as if he had been the Major ; but 
an alteration in her mind that ensued on the paralytic stroke 
was fraught with as much matter for reflection, and was quite 
as ghastly. 

Whether the weakening of her intellect made her more 
cunning and false than before, or whether it confused her 
between what she had assumed to be and what she really had 
been, or whether it had awakened any glimmering of remorse, 
which could neither struggle into light nor get back into total 
darkness, or whether, in the jumble of her faculties, a combina 
tion of these effects had been shaken up, which is perhaps the 
more likely supposition, the result was this : That she became 
hugely exacting in respect of Edith's affection and gratitude 
and attention to her; highly laudatory of herself as a most 
inestimable parent; and very jealous of having any rival in 
Edith's regard. Further, in place of remembering that com 
pact made between them for an avoidance of the subject, she 
constantly alluded to her daughter's marriage as a proof of 
her being an incomparable mother; and all this, with the 
weakness and peevishness of such a state, always serving for a 
sarcastic commentary on her levity and youthfulness. 

" Where is Mrs. Dombey ? " she would say to her maid. 

" Gone out, Ma'am." 

" Gone out ! Does she go out to shun her mama, Flowers ? " 

"La bless you, no, Ma'am. Mrs. Dombey has only gone 
out for a ride with Miss Florence." 

"Miss Florence. Who's Miss Florence? Don't tell me 
about Miss Florence. What's Miss Florence to her, compared 
to me?" 

The apposite display of the diamonds, or the peach-velvet 
bonnet (she sat in the bonnet to receive visitors,, weeks before 



LET THE PAST REST. 115 

she could stir out of doors), or the dressing of her up in some 
gaud or other, usually stopped the tears that began to flow 
hereabouts ; and she would remain in a complacent state until 
Edith came to see her ; when, at a glance of the proud face, 
she would relapse again. 

" Well, I am sure, Edith ! " she would cry, shaking her 
head. 

" What is the matter, mother ? " 

" Matter ! I really don't know what is the matter. The 
world is coming to such an artificial and ungrateful state, that 
I begin to think there's no Heart or anything of that sort 
left in it, positively. Withers is more a child to me than 
you are. He attends to me much more than my own daughter. 
I almost wish I didn't look so young and all that kind of 
thing and then perhaps I should be more considered. 11 

" What would you have, mother ? " 

"Oh, a great deal, Edith," impatiently. 

" Is there anything you want that you have not ? It is 
your own fault if there be." 

"My own fault!" beginning to whimper. "The parent I 
have been to you, Edith : making you a companion from your 
cradle ! And when you neglect me, and have no more natural 
affection for me than if I was a stranger not a twentieth part 
of the affection that you have for Florence but I am only 
your mother, and should corrupt her in a day ! you reproach 
me with its being my own fault." 

" Mother, mother, I reproach you with nothing. Why will 
you always dwell on this?" 

"Isn't it natural that I should dwell on this, when I am 
all affection and sensitiveness, and am wounded in the cruelest 
way, whenever you look at me ? " 

"I do not mean to wound you, mother. Have you no 
remembrance of what has been said between us ? Let the 
Past rest." 

" Yes, rest ! And let gratitude to me rest ; and let affection 
for me rest ; and let me rest in my out-of-the-way room, with 



116 DOMBEY AND SON. 

no society and no attention, while you find new relations to 
make much of, who have no earthly claim upon you ! Good 
gracious, Edith, do you know what an elegant establishment 
you are at the head of?' 1 

" Yes. Hush ! " 

" And that gentlemanly creature, Dombey ? Do you know 
that you are married to him, Edith, and that you have a 
settlement, and a position, and a carriage, and I don't know 
what ? " 

" Indeed, I know it, mother ; well. 11 

" As you would have had Avith that delightful good soul 
what did they call him ? Granger if he hadn't died. And 
who have you to thank for all this, Edith ? " 

" You, mother ; you. 11 

" Then put your arms round my neck, and kiss me ; and 
show me, Edith, that you know there never was a better 
mama than I have been to you. And don't let me become 
a perfect fright with teasing and wearing myself at your 
ingratitude, or when I'm out again in society no soul will 
know me, not even that hateful animal, the Major. 11 

But, sometimes, when Edith went nearer to her, and bending 
down her stately head, put her cold cheek to hers, the mother 
would draw back as if she were afraid of her, and would fall 
into a fit of trembling, and cry out that there was a wander 
ing in her wits. And sometimes she would entreat her, with 
humility, to sit down on the chair beside her bed, and would 
look at her (as she sat there brooding) with a face that even 
the rose-coloured curtains could not make otherwise than seared 
and wild. 

The rose-coloured curtains blushed, in course of time, on 
Cleopatra^ bodily recovery, and on her dress more juvenile 
than ever to repair the ravages of illness and on the rouge, 
and on the teeth, and on the curls, and on the diamonds, and 
the short sleeves, and the whole wardrobe of the doll that 
had tumbled down before the mirror. They blushed, too, 
now and then, upon an indistinctness in her speech which she 



ROSE-COLOURED CURTAINS. 117 

turned off with a girlish giggle, and on an occasional failing 
in her memory, that had no rule in it, but came and went 
fantastically, as if in mockery of her fantastic self. 

But they never blushed upon a change in the new manner 
of her thought and speech towards her daughter. And though 
that daughter often came within their influence, they never 
blushed upon her loveliness irradiated by a smile, or softened 
by the light of filial love, in its stern beauty. 



CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

MISS TOX IMPROVES AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE. 

THE forlorn Miss Tox, abandoned by her friend Louisa Chick, 
and bereft of Mr. Dombey's countenance for no delicate pair 
of wedding cards, united by a silver thread, graced the chimney- 
glass in Princess's Place, or the harpsichord, or any of those 
little posts of display which Lucretia reserved for holiday 
occupation became depressed in her spirits, and suffered much 
from melancholy. For a time the Bird Waltz was unheard in 
Princess's Place, the plants were neglected, and dust collected 
on the miniature of Miss Tox's ancestor with the powdered 
head and pigtail. 

Miss Tox, however, was not of an age or of a disposition 
long to abandon herself to unavailing regrets. Only two 
notes of the harpsichord were dumb from disuse when the 
Bird Waltz again warbled and trilled in the crooked drawing- 
room : only one slip of geranium fell a victim to imperfect 
nursing, before she was gardening at her green baskets again, 
regularly every morning; the powdered-headed ancestor had 
not been under a cloud for more than six weeks, when Miss 
Tox breathed on his benignant visage, and polished him up 
with a piece of wash-leather. 

Still, Miss Tox was lonely, and at a loss. Her attachments, 
however ludicrously shown, were real and strong; and she 
was, as she expressed it, "deeply hurt by the unmerited 
contumely she had met with from Louisa." But there was 
no such thing as anger in Miss Tox's composition. If she 



LONELINESS OF MISS TOX. 119 

had ambled on through life, in her soft-spoken way, without 
any opinions, she had, at least, got so far without any harsh 
passions. The mere sight of Louisa Chick in the street one 
day, at a considerable distance, so overpowered her milky 
nature, that she was fain to seek immediate refuge in a pastry 
cook's, and there, in a musty little back room usually devoted 
to the consumption of soups, and pervaded by an ox-tail 
atmosphere, relieve her feelings by weeping plentifully. 

Against Mr. Dombey Miss Tox hardly felt that she had 
any reason of complaint. Her sense of that gentleman's 
magnificence was such, that once removed from him, she felt 
as if her distance always had been immeasurable, and as if 
he had greatly condescended in tolerating her at all. No wife 
could be too handsome or too stately for him, according to 
Miss Tox's sincere opinion. It was perfectly natural that in 
looking for one, he should look high. Miss Tox with tears 
laid down this proposition, and fully admitted it, twenty times 
a day. She never recalled the lofty manner in which Mr. 
Dombey had made her subservient to his convenience and 
caprices, and had graciously permitted her to be one of the 
nurses of his little son. She only thought, in her own words, 
" that she had passed a great many happy hours in that house, 
which she must ever remember with gratification, and that 
she could never cease to regard Mr. Dombey as one of the 
most impressive and dignified of men." 

Cut off, however, from the implacable Louisa, and being 
shy of the Major (whom she viewed with some distrust now), 
Miss Tox found it very irksome to know nothing of what was 
going on in Mr. Dombey's establishment. And as she really 
had got into the habit of considering Dombey and Son as the 
pivot on which the world in general turned, she resolved, 
rather than be ignorant of intelligence which so strongly 
interested her, to cultivate her old acquaintance, Mrs. Richards, 
who she knew, since her last memorable appearance before 
Mr. Dombey, was in the habit of sometimes holding com 
munication with his servants. Perhaps Miss Tox, in seeking 



120 DOMBEY AND SON. 

out the Toodle family, had the tender motive hidden in her 
breast of having somebody to whom she could talk about Mr. 
Dombey, no matter how humble that somebody might be. 

At all events, towards the Toodle habitation Miss Tox 
directed her steps one evening, what time Mr. Toodle, tindery 
and swart, was refreshing himself with tea, in the bosom of 
his family. Mr. Toodle had only three stages of existence. 
He was either taking refreshment in the bosom just mentioned, 
or he was tearing through the country at from twenty-five to 
fifty miles an hour, or he was sleeping after his fatigues. He 
was always in a whirlwind or a calm, and a peaceable, con 
tented, easy-going man Mr. Toodle was in either state, who 
seemed to have made over all his own inheritance of fuming 
and fretting to the engines with which he was connected, 
which panted, and gasped, and chafed, and wore themselves 
out, in a most unsparing manner, while Mr. Toodle led a mild 
and equable life. 

" Polly, my gal," said Mr. Toodle, with a young Toodle on 
each knee, and two more making tea for him, and plenty 
more scattered about Mr. Toodle was never out of children, 
but always kept a good supply on hand " you an't seen our 
Biler lately, have you ? " 

"No," replied Polly, "but he's almost certain to look in 
to-night. It's his right evening, and he's very regular." 

"I suppose," said Mr. Toodle, relishing his meal infinitely, 
" as our Biler is a doin' now about as well as a boy can do, 
eh, Polly?" 

" Oh ! he's a doing beautiful ! " responded Polly. 

" He an't got to be at all secret-like has he, Polly ? " 
inquired Mr. Toodle. 

" No ! " said Mrs. Toodle, plumply. 

"I'm glad he an't got to be at all secret-like, Polly," 
observed Mr. Toodle in his slow and measured way, and 
shovelling in his bread and butter with a clasp knife, as if he 
were stoking himself, " because that don't look well ; do it, 
Polly ? " 



IN THE BOSOM OF THE TOODLE FAMILY. 

" Why, of course it don't, father. How can you ask ! " 

"You see, my boys and gals, 1 ' said Mr. Toodle, looking 
round upon his family, " wotever you're up to in a honest 
way, it's my opinion as you can't do better than be open. If 
you find yourselves in cuttings or in tunnels, don't you play 
no secret games. Keep your whistles going, and let's know 
where you are." 

The rising Toodles set up a shrill murmur, expressive of 
their resolution to profit by the paternal advice. 

" But what makes you say this along of Rob, father ? " 
asked his wife, anxiously. 

" Polly, old 'ooman," said Mr. Toodle, " I don't know as I 
said it partickler along o' Rob, I'm sure. I starts light with 
Rob only ; I comes to a branch ; I takes on what I finds 
there ; and a whole train of ideas gets coupled on to him, 
afore I knows where I am, or where they comes from. What a 
Junction a man's thoughts is," said Mr. Toodle, " to-be-sure ! " 

This profound reflection Mr. Toodle washed down with a 
pint mug of tea, and proceeded to solidify with a great weight 
of bread and butter; charging his young daughters mean 
while, to keep plenty of hot water in the pot, as he was un 
common dry, and should take the indefinite quantity of " a 
sight of mugs," before his thirst was appeased. 

In satisfying himself, however, Mr. Toodle was not regard 
less of the younger branches about him, who, although they 
had made their own evening repast, were on the look-out for 
irregular morsels, as possessing a relish. These he distributed 
now and then to the expectant circle, by holding out great 
wedges of bread and butter, to be bitten at by the family in 
lawful succession, and by serving out small doses of tea in like 
manner with a spoon ; which snacks had such a relish in the 
mouths of these young Toodles, that, after partaking of the 
same, they performed private dances of ecstasy among them 
selves, and stood on one leg apiece, and hopped, and in 
dulged in other saltatory tokens of gladness. These vents 
for their excitement found, they gradually closed about Mr. 



. BOMBEY AND SON. 

Toodle again, and eyed him hard as he got through more 
bread and butter and tea; affecting, however, to have no 
further expectations of their own in reference to those viands, 
but to be conversing on foreign subjects, and whispering 
confidentially. 

Mr. Toodle, in the midst of this family group, and setting 
an awful example to his children in the way of appetite, was 
conveying the two young Toodles on his knees to Birmingham 
by special engine, and was contemplating the rest over a 
barrier of bread and butter, when Rob the Grinder, in his 
sou'wester hat and mourning slops, presented himself, and was 
received with a general rush of brothers and sisters. 

" Well, mother ! " said Rob, dutifully kissing her ; " how 
are you, mother ? " 

. " There's my boy ! " cried Polly, giving him a hug and a 
pat on the back. " Secret ! Bless you, father, not he ! " 

This was intended for Mr. Toodle's private edification, but 
Rob the Grinder, whose withers were not unwrung, caught 
the words as they were spoken. 

" What ! father's been a saying something more again me, 
has he ?" cried the injured innocent. " Oh, what a hard thing 
it is that when a cove has once gone a little wrong, a cove's 
own father should be always a throwing it in his face behind 
his back ! It's enough," cried Rob, resorting to his coat-cuff 
in anguish of spirit, "to make a cove go and do something 
out of spite ! " 

" My poor boy ! " cried Polly, " father didn't mean any 
thing." 

" If father didn't mean anything," blubbered the injured 
Grinder, " why did he go and say anything, mother ? Nobody 
thinks half so bad of me as my own father does. What a 
unnatural thing ! I wish somebody 'd take and chop my head 
off. Father wouldn't mind doing it, I believe, and I'd much 
rather he did that than t'other." 

At these desperate words all the young Toodles shrieked ; 
a pathetic effect, which the Grinder improved by ironically 



THE INJURED GRINDER. 123 

adjuring them not to cry for him, for they ought to hate 
him, they ought, if they was good boys and girls ; and this 
so touched the youngest Toodle but one, who was easily 
moved, that it touched him not only in his spirit but in his 
wind too; making him so purple that Mr. Toodle in con 
sternation carried him out to the water-butt, and would have 
put him under the tap, but for his being recovered by the 
sight of that instrument. 

Matters having reached this point, Mr. Toodle explained, 
and the virtuous feelings of his son being thereby calmed, 
they shook hands, and harmony reigned again. 

" Will you do as I do, Biler, my boy ? " inquired his father, 
returning to his tea with new strength. 

" No, thank'ee, father. Master and I had tea together." 

"And how is master, Rob?" said Polly. 

"Well, I don't know, mother; not much to boast on. 
There ain't no bis'ness done, you see. He don't know 
anything about it, the Cap'en don't. There was a man come 
into the shop this very day, and says, 'I want a so-and-so,"* 
he says some hard name or another. 'A which?' says the 
Cap'en. 'A so-and-so,' says the man. 'Brother,' says the 
Cap'en, 'will you take a observation round the shop?' 
' Well,' says the man, ' I've done it.' ' Do you see wot you 
want ? ' says the Cap'en. ' No, I don't,' says the man. ' Do 
you know it wen you do see it?' says the Cap'en. 'No, I 
don't,' says the man. 'Why, then I tell you wot, my lad,' 
says the Cap'en, 'you'd better go back and ask wot it's like, 
outside, for no more don't I ! " 

"That ain't the way to make money, though, is it?" 
said Polly. 

" Money, mother ! He'll never make money. He has such 
ways as I never see. He ain't a bad master though, I'll say 
that for him. But that ain't much to me, for I don't think 
I shall stop with him long." 

" Not stop in your place, Rob ! " cried his mother ; while 
Mr. Toodle opened his eyes. 



DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Not in that place, p'raps," returned the Grinder, with a 
wink. "I shouldn't wonder friends at court you know but 
never you mind, mother, just now ; I'm all right, that's all." 

The indisputable proof afforded in these hints, and in the 
Grinder's mysterious manner, of his not being subject to that 
failing which Mr. Toodle had, by implication, attributed to 
him, might have led to a renewal of his wrongs, and of the 
sensation in the family, but for the opportune arrival of 
another visitor, who, to Polly's great surprise, appeared at 
the door, smiling patronage and friendship on all there. 

" How do you do, Mrs. Richards ? " said Miss Tox. " I 
have come to see you. May I come in ? " 

The cheery face of Mrs. Richards shone with a hospitable 
reply, and Miss Tox, accepting the proffered chair, and 
gracefully recognising Mr. Toodle on her way to it, untied 
her bonnet strings, and said that in the first place she must 
beg the dear children, one and all, to come and kiss her. 

The ill-starred youngest Toodle but one, who would 
appear, from the frequency of his domestic troubles, to have 
been born under an unlucky planet, was prevented from 
performing his part in this general salutation by having fixed 
the sou'wester hat (with which he had been previously trifling) 
deep on his head, hind side before, and being unable to get 
it off again; which accident presenting to his terrified 
imagination a dismal picture of his passing the rest of his 
days in darkness, and in hopeless seclusion from his friends 
and family, caused him to struggle with great violence, and 
to utter suffocating cries. Being released, his face was dis 
covered to be very hot, and red, and damp; and Miss Tox 
took him on her lap, much exhausted. 

" You have almost forgotten me, Sir, I dare say," said 
Miss Tox to Mr. Toodle. 

" No, Ma'am, no," said Toodle. " But we've all on us got 
a little older since then." 

" And how do you find yourself, Sir ? " inquired Miss Tox, 
blandly. 



INDISCRETION OF MR. TOODLE. 125 

"Hearty, Ma'am, thank'ee," replied Toodle. "How do 
you find #owrself, Ma'am ? Do the rheumaticks keep off 
pretty well, Ma'am? We must all expect to grow into 'em, 
as we gets on." 

"Thank you," said Miss Tox. "I have not felt any 
inconvenience from that disorder yet." 

"You're wery fortunate, Ma'am,' 1 returned Mr. Toodle. 
" Many people at your time of life, Ma'am, is martyrs to it. 
There was my mother " But catching his wife's eye here, 
Mr. Toodle judiciously buried the rest in another mug of tea. 

"You never mean to say, Mrs. Richards," cried Miss Tox, 
looking at Rob, "that that is your " 

" Eldest, Ma'am," said Polly. " Yes, indeed, it is. That's 
the little fellow, Ma'am, that was the innocent cause of so 
much." 

" This here, Ma'am," said Toodle, " is him with the short 
legs and they was," said Mr. Toodle, with a touch of poetry 
in his tone, "unusual short for leathers as Mr. Dombey 
made a Grinder on." 

The recollection almost overpowered Miss Tox. The 
subject of it had a peculiar interest for her directly. She 
asked him to shake hands, and congratulated his mother on 
his frank, ingenuous face. Rob, overhearing her, called up 
a look, to justify the eulogium, but it was hardly the right 
look. 

"And now, Mrs. Richards," said Miss Tox, "and you 
too, Sir," addressing Toodle "I'll tell you, plainly and 
truly, what I have come here for. You may be aware, Mrs. 
Richards and, possibly, you may be aware too, Sir that 
a little distance has interposed itself between me and some 
of my friends, and that where I used to visit a good deal, 
I do not visit now." 

Polly, who, with a woman's tact, understood this at once, 
expressed as much in a little look. Mr. Toodle, who had 
not the faintest idea of what Miss Tox was talking about, 
expressed that also, in a stare. 



126 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Of course," said Miss Tox, "how our little coolness has 
arisen is of no moment, and does not require to be discussed. 
It is sufficient for me to say, that I have the greatest possible 
respect for, and interest in, Mr. Dombey ; " Miss Tox's voice 
faltered ; " and everything that relates to him. 11 

Mr. Toodle, enlightened, shook his head, and said he had 
heerd it said, and, for his own part, he did think, as Mr. 
Dombey was a difficult subject. 

" Pray don't say so, Sir, if you please, 1 ' returned Miss 
Tox. "Let me entreat you not to say so, Sir, either now, 
or at any future time. Such observations cannot but be 
very painful to me; and to a gentleman, whose mind is 
constituted as, I am quite sure yours is, can afford no 
permanent satisfaction." 

Mr. Toodle, who had not entertained the least doubt of 
offering a remark that would be received with acquiescence, 
was greatly confounded. 

"All that I wish to say, Mrs. Richards," resumed Miss 
Tox, " and I address myself to you too, Sir, is this. That 
any intelligence of the proceedings of the family, of the 
welfare of the family, of the health of the family, that 
reaches you, will be always most acceptable to me. That I 
shall be always very glad to chat with Mrs. Richards about 
the family, and about old times. And as Mrs. Richards and 
I never had the least difference (though I could wish now that 
we had been better acquainted, but I have no one but myself 
to blame for that), I hope she will not object to our being 
very good friends now, and to my coming backwards and 
forwards here, when I like, without being a stranger. Now, 
I really hope, Mrs. Richards," said Miss Tox, earnestly, " that 
you will take this, as I mean it, like a good-humoured 
creature, as you always were." 

Polly was gratified, and showed it. Mr. Toodle didn't 
know whether he was gratified or not, and preserved a 
stolid calmness. 

" You see, Mrs. Richards," said Miss Tox " and I hope you 



A LITTLE BARGAIN MADE. 127 

see too, Sir there are many little ways in which I can be 
slightly useful to you, if you will make no stranger of me ; 
and in which I shall be delighted to be so. For instance, I 
can teach your children something. I shall bring a few little 
books, if you'll allow me, and some work, and of an evening 
now and then, they'll learn dear me, they'll learn a great deal, 
I trust, and be a credit to their teacher." 

Mr. Toodle, who had a great respect for learning, jerked 
his head approvingly at his wife, and moistened his hands 
with dawning satisfaction. 

"Then, not being a stranger, I shall be in nobody's way," 
said Miss Tox, " and everything will go on just as if I were 
not here. Mrs. Richards will do her mending, or her ironing, 
or her nursing, whatever it is, without minding me : and you'll 
smoke your pipe, too, if you're so disposed, Sir, won't you?" 

"Thank'ee, Mum," said Mr. Toodle. "Yes; I'll take my 
bit of backer." 

"Very good of you to say so, Sir," rejoined Miss Tox, 
"and I really do assure you now, unfeignedly, that it will 
be a great comfort to me, and that whatever good I may 
be fortunate enough to do the children, you will more than 
pay back to me, if you'll enter into this little bargain 
comfortably, and easily, and good-naturedly, without another 
word about it." 

The bargain was ratified on the spot ; and Miss Tox found 
herself so much at home already, that without delay she 
instituted a preliminary examination of the children all 
round which Mr. Toodle much admired and booked their 
ages, names, and acquirements, on a piece of paper. This 
ceremony, and a little attendant gossip, prolonged the time 
until after their usual hour of going to bed, and detained 
Miss Tox at the Toodle fireside until it was too late for her 
to walk home alone. The gallant Grinder, however, being 
still there, politely offered to attend her to her own door; 
and as it was something to Miss Tox to be seen home by 
a youth whom Mr. Dombey had first inducted into those 



128 DOMBEY AND SON. 

manly garments which are rarely mentioned by name, she 
very readily accepted the proposal. 

After shaking hands with Mr. Toodle and Polly, and kissing 
all the children, Miss Tox left the house, therefore, with 
unlimited popularity, and carrying away with her so light 
a heart that it might have given Mrs. Chick offence if that 
good lady could have weighed it. 

Rob the Grinder, in his modesty, would have walked 
behind, but Miss Tox desired him to keep beside her, for 
conversational purposes ; and, as she afterwards expressed it 
to his mother, " drew him out " upon the road. 

He drew out so bright, and clear, and shining, that Miss 
Tox was charmed with him. The more Miss Tox drew him 
out, the finer he came like wire. There never was a better 
or more promising youth a more affectionate, steady, 
prudent, sober, honest, meek, candid young man than Rob 
drew out that night. 

" I am quite glad," said Miss Tox, arrived at her own door, 
"to know you. I hope you'll consider me your friend, and 
that you'll come and see me as often as you like. Do you 
keep a money-box ? " 

" Yes, Ma'am," returned Rob ; " I'm saving up against 
I've got enough to put in the Bank, Ma'am." 

"Very laudable indeed," said Miss Tox. "I'm glad to 
hear it. Put this half-crown into it, if you please." 

"Oh thank you, Ma'am," replied Rob, "but really I 
couldn't think of depriving you." 

"I commend your independent spirit," said Miss Tox, 
"but it's no deprivation, I assure you. I shall be offended 
if you don't take it, as a mark of my good-will. Good 
night, Robin." 

" Good night, Ma'am," said Rob, " and thank you ! " 

Who ran sniggering off to get change, and tossed it away 
with a pieman. But they never taught honour at the 
Grinders' School, where the system that prevailed was par 
ticularly strong in the engendering of hypocrisy. Insomuch, 



A SYSTEM OF EDUCATION. 129 

that many of the friends and masters of past Grinders said, 
if this were what came of education for the common people, 
let us have none. Some more rational said, let us have a 
better one. But the governing powers of the Grinders 1 
Company were always ready for them, by picking out a few 
boys who had turned out well, in spite of the system, and 
roundly asserting that they could have only turned out well 
because of it. Which settled the business of those objectors 
out of hand, and established the glory of the Grinders 1 
Institution. 



VOL. II. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

FURTHER ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN EDWARD CUTTLE, MARINER. 

TIME, sure of foot and strong of will, had so pressed onward, 
that the year enjoined by the old Instrument-maker, as the 
term during which his friend should refrain from opening the 
sealed packet accompanying the letter he had left for him, 
was now nearly expired, and Captain Cuttle began to look at 
it, of an evening, Avith feelings of mystery and uneasiness. 

The Captain, in his honour, would as soon have thought 
of opening the parcel one hour before the expiration of the 
term, as he would have thought of opening himself, to study 
his own anatomy. He merely brought it out, at a certain 
stage of his first evening pipe, laid it on the table, and sat 
gazing at the outside of it, through the smoke, in silent 
gravity, for two or three hours at a spell. Sometimes, when 
he had contemplated it thus for a pretty long while, the 
Captain would hitch his chair, by degrees, farther and 
farther off, as if to get beyond the range of its fascination ; 
but if this were his design, he never succeeded : for even 
Avhen he was brought up by the parlour wall, the packet 
still attracted him ; or if his eyes, in thoughtful wandering, 
roved to the ceiling or the fire, its image immediately 
followed, and posted itself conspicuously among the coals, 
or took up an advantageous position on the whitewash. 

In respect of Heart's Delight, the Captain's parental regard 
and admiration knew no change, But since his last interview 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE IN RETIREMENT. 131 

with Mr. Carker, Captain Cuttle had come to entertain 
doubts whether his former intervention in behalf of that 
young lady and his dear boy Wal'r, had proved altogether 
so favourable as he could have wished, and as he at the time 
believed. The Captain was troubled with a serious misgiving 
that he had done more harm than good, in short ; and in 
his remorse and modesty he made the best atonement he 
could think of, by putting himself out of the way of doing 
any harm to any one, and, as it were, throwing himself 
overboard for a dangerous person. 

Self-buried, therefore, among the instruments, the Captain 
never went near Mr. Dombey's house, or reported himself 
in any way to Florence or Miss Nipper. He even severed 
himself from Mr. Perch, on the occasion of his next visit, 
by dryly informing that gentleman, that he thanked him 
for his company, but had cut himself adrift from all such 
acquaintance, as he didn't know what magazine he mightn't 
blow up, without meaning of it. In this self-imposed retire 
ment, the Captain passed whole days and weeks without 
interchanging a word with any one but Rob the Grinder, 
whom he esteemed as a pattern of disinterested attachment 
and fidelity. In this retirement, the Captain, gazing at 
the packet of an evening, would sit smoking, and thinking 
of Florence and poor Walter, until they both seemed to 
his homely fancy to be dead, and to have passed away into 
eternal youth, the beautiful and innocent children of his first 
remembrance. 

The Captain did not, however, in his musings, neglect his 
own improvement, or the mental culture of Rob the Grinder. 
That young man was generally required to read out of some 
book to the Captain, for one hour, every evening ; and as the 
Captain implicitly believed that all books were true, he 
accumulated, by this means, many remarkable facts. On 
Sunday nights, the Captain always read for himself, before 
going to bed, a certain Divine Sermon once delivered on a 
Mount ; and although he was accustomed to quote the text, 



132 DOMBEY AND SON. 

without book, after his own manner, he appeared to read 
it with as reverent an understanding of its heavenly spirit, as 
if he had got it all by heart in Greek, and had been able 
to write any number of fierce theological disquisitions on its 
every phrase. 

Rob the Grinder, whose reverence for the inspired writings, 
under the admirable system of the Grinders' School, had 
been developed by a perpetual bruising of his intellectual 
shins against all the proper names of all the tribes of Judah, 
and by the monotonous repetition of hard verses, especially 
by way of punishment, and by the parading of him at six 
years old in leather breeches, three times a Sunday, very 
high up, in a very hot church, with a great organ buzzing 
against his drowsy head, like an exceedingly busy bee Rob 
the Grinder made a mighty show of being edified when the 
Captain ceased to read, and generally yawned and nodded 
while the reading was in progress. The latter fact being 
never so much as suspected by the good Captain. 

Captain Cuttle, also, as a man of business, took to keeping 
books. In these he entered observations on the weather, and 
on the currents of the waggons and other vehicles : which he 
observed, in that quarter, to set westward in the morning 
and during the greater part of the day, and eastward towards 
the evening. Two or three stragglers appearing in one week, 
who " spoke him " so the Captain entered it on the subject 
of spectacles, and who, without positively purchasing, said 
they would look in again, the Captain decided that the 
business was improving, and made an entry in the day-book 
to that effect : the wind then blowing (which he first 
recorded) pretty fresh, west and by north; having changed 
in the night. 

One of the Captain's chief difficulties was Mr. Toots, who 
called frequently, and who without saying much seemed to 
have an idea that the little back parlour was an eligible 
room to chuckle in, as he would sit and avail himself of its 
accommodations in that regard by the half-hour together, 



MR. TOOTS A CONSTANT VISITOR. 133 

without at all advancing in intimacy with the Captain. The 
Captain, rendered cautious by his late experience, was unable 
quite to satisfy his mind whether Mr. Toots was the mild 
subject he appeared to be, or was a profoundly artful and 
dissimulating hypocrite. His frequent reference to Miss 
Dombey was suspicious; but the Captain had a secret 
kindness for Mr. Toots's apparent reliance on him, and 
forbore to decide against him for the present; merely eyeing 
him, with a sagacity not to be described, whenever he 
approached the subject that was nearest to his heart. 

"Captain Gills," blurted out Mr. Toots, one day all at 
once, as his manner was, "do you think you could think 
favourably of that proposition of mine, and give me the 
pleasure of your acquaintance ? " 

" Why, I tell you what it is, my lad," replied the Captain, 
who had at length concluded on a course of action ; " I've 
been turning that there over." 

" Captain Gills, it's very kind of you," retorted Mr. Toots. 
"I'm much obliged to you. Upon my word and honour, 
Captain Gills, it would be a charity to give me the pleasure 
of your acquaintance. It really would." 

"You see, brother," argued the Captain slowly, "I don't 
know you." 

"But you never can know me, Captain Gills," replied Mr. 
Toots, steadfast to his point, "if you don't give me the 
pleasure of your acquaintance." 

The Captain seemed struck by the originality and power 
of this remark, and looked at Mr. Toots as if he thought 
there was a great deal more in him than he had expected. 

"Well said, my lad," observed the Captain, nodding his 
head thoughtfully; "and true. Now look'ee here: You've 
made some observations to me, which gives me to understand 
as you admire a certain sweet creetur. Hey ? " 

*' Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, gesticulating violently 
with the hand in which he held his hat, " Admiration is not 
the word. Upon my honour, you have no conception what 



134 DOMBEY AND SON. 

my feelings are. If I could be dyed black, and made Miss 
Dombey's slave, I should consider it a compliment. If, at 
the sacrifice of all my property, I could get transmigrated 
into Miss Dombey's dog I I really think I should never 
leave oft' wagging my tail. I should be so perfectly happy, 
Captain Gills ! " 

Mr. Toots said it with watery eyes, and pressed his hat 
against his bosom with deep emotion. 

"My lad," returned the Captain, moved to compassion, 
" if you're in arnest " 

"Captain Gills, 11 cried Mr. Toots, "I'm in such a state of 
mind, and am so dreadfully in earnest, that if I could swear 
to it upon a hot piece of iron, or a live coal, or melted lead, 
or burning sealing-wax, or anything of that sort, I should 
be glad to hurt myself, as a relief to my feelings." And 
Mr. Toots looked hurriedly about the room, as if for some 
sufficiently painful means of accomplishing his dread purpose. 

The Captain pushed his glazed hat back upon his head, 
stroked his face down with his heavy hand making his nose 
more mottled in the process and planting himself before 
Mr. Toots, and hooking him by the lapel of his coat, 
addressed him in these words, while Mr. Toots looked up 
into his face, with much attention and some wonder. 

"If you're in arnest, you see, my lad," said the Captain, 
"you're a object of clemency, and clemency is the brightest 
jewel in the crown of a Briton's head, for which you'll 
overhaul the constitution as laid down in Rule Britannia, 
and, when found, that is the charter as them garden angels 
was a singing of, so many times over. Stand by ! This 
here proposal o' you'rn takes me a little aback And why ? 
Because I holds my own only, you understand, in these here 
waters, and haven't got no consort, and may be don't wish 
for none. Steady! You hailed me first, along of a certain 
young lady, as you was chartered by. Now if you and me 
is to keep one another's company at all, that there young 
creetur's name must never be named nor referred to. I don't 



A FRIENDLY COMPACT: 135 

know what harm mayn't have been done by naming of it 
too free, afore now, and thereby I brings up short. D'ye 
make me out pretty clear, brother ? " 

" Well, you'll excuse me, Captain Gills, 1 ' replied Mr. Toots, 
" if I don't quite follow you sometimes. But upon my word 
I it's a hard thing, Captain Gills, not to be able to mention 
Miss Dombey. I really have got such a dreadful load here ! " 
Mr. Toots pathetically touched his shirt-front with both 
hands " that I feel night and day, exactly as if somebody 
was sitting upon me." 

" Them," said the Captain, " is the terms I offer. If they're 
hard upon you, brother, as mayhap they are, give 'em a wide 
berth, sheer off, and part company cheerily ! " 

" Captain Gills," returned Mr. Toots, " I hardly know how 
it is, but after what you told me when I came here, for the 
first time, I I feel that I'd rather think about Miss Dombey 
in your society than talk about her in almost anybody else's. 
Therefore, Captain Gills, if you'll give me the pleasure of 
your acquaintance, I shall be very happy to accept it on 
your own conditions. I wish to be honourable, Captain 
Gills," said Mr. Toots, holding back his extended hand for 
a moment, " and therefore I am obliged to say that I can not 
help thinking about Miss Dombey. It's impossible for me 
to make a promise not to think about her." 

"My lad," said the Captain, whose opinion of Mr. Toots 
was much improved by this candid avowal, " a man's thoughts 
is like the winds, and nobody can't answer for 'em for certain, 
any length of time together. Is it a treaty as to words ? " 

"As to words, Captain Gills," returned Mr. Toots, "I 
think I can bind myself." 

Mr. Toots gave Captain Cuttle his hand upon it, then 
and there ; and the Captain with a pleasant and gracious 
show of condescension, bestowed his acquaintance upon him 
formally. Mr. Toots seemed much relieved and gladdened 
by the acquisition, and chuckled rapturously during the 
remainder of his visit. The Captain, for his part, was not 



136 DOMBEY AND SON. 

ill pleased to occupy that position of patronage, and was 
exceedingly well satisfied by his own prudence and foresight. 

But rich as Captain Cuttle was in the latter quality, 
he received a surprise that same evening from a no less 
ingenuous and simple youth, than Rob the Grinder. That 
artless lad, drinking tea at the same table, and bending 
meekly over his cup and saucer, having taken sidelong 
observations of his master for some time, who was reading 
the newspaper with great difficulty, but much dignity, 
through his glasses, broke silence by saying 

" Oh ! I beg your pardon, Captain, but you mayn't be in 
want of any pigeons, may you, Sir ? " 

"No, my lad," replied the Captain. 

" Because I was wishing to dispose of mine, Captain, 1 ' said 
Rob. 

"Aye, aye?" cried the Captain, lifting up his bushy 
eyebrows a little. 

" Yes ; I'm going, Captain, if you please," said Rob. 

" Going? Where are you going?" asked the Captain, 
looking round at him over the glasses. 

"What? didn't you know that I was going to leave you, 
Captain ? " asked Rob, with a sneaking smile. 

The Captain put down the paper, took off his spectacles, 
and brought his eyes to bear on the deserter. 

" Oh yes, Captain, I am going to give you warning. I 
thought you'd have known that beforehand, perhaps," said 
Rob, rubbing his hands, and getting up. "If you could be 
so good as provide yourself soon, Captain, it would be a 
great convenience to me. You couldn't provide yourself by 
to-morrow morning, I am afraid, Captain : could you, do you 
think?" 

"And you're a going to desert your colours, are you, my 
lad?" said the Captain, after a long examination of his face. 

" Oh, it's very hard upon a cove, Captain," cried the tender 
Rob, injured and indignant in a moment, "that he can't 
give lawful warning, without being frowned at in that way, 



THE GRINDER INJURED AGAIN. 137 

and called a deserter. You haven't any right to call a poor 
cove names, Captain. It ain't because I'm a servant and 
you're a master, that you're to go and libel me. What 
wrong have I done? Come, Captain, let me know what 
my crime is, will you ? " 

The stricken Grinder wept, and put his coat-cuff in his eye. 

" Come, Captain," cried the injured youth, " give my crime 
a name ! What have I been and done ? Have I stolen any 
of the property ? have I set the house a-fire ? If I have, why 
don't you give me in charge, and try it ? But to take away 
the character of a lad that's been a good servant to you, 
because he can't afford to stand in his own light for your 
good, what a injury it is, and what a bad return for faithful 
service ! This is the way young coves is spiled and drove 
wrong. I wonder at you, Captain, I do." 

All of which the Grinder howled forth in a lachrymose 
whine, and backing carefully towards the door. 

"And so you've got another berth, have you, my lad?" 
said the Captain, eyeing him intently. 

" Yes, Captain, since you put it in that shape, I have got 
another berth," cried Rob, backing more and more; "a 
better berth than I've got here, and one where I don't so 
much as want your good word, Captain, which is fort'nate 
for me, after all the dirt you've throw'd at me, because I'm 
poor, and can't afford to stand in my own light for your good. 
Yes, I have got another berth ; and if it wasn't for leaving 
you unprovided, Captain, I'd go to it now, sooner than I'd 
take them names from you, because I'm poor, and can't 
afford to stand in my own light for your good. Why do 
you reproach me for being poor, and not standing in my 
own light for your good, Captain ? How can you so demean 
yourself?" 

"Look ye here, my boy," replied the peaceful Captain. 
" Don't you pay out no more of them words." 

"Well, then, don't you pay in no more of your words, 
Captain," retorted the roused innocent, getting louder in his 



138 DOMBEY AND SON. 

whine, and backing into the shop. "I'd sooner you took 
my blood than my character. 11 

" Because, 11 pursued the Captain calmly, " you have heerd, 
may be, of such a thing as a rope's end. 1 ' 

" Oh, have I though, Captain ? " cried the taunting Grinder. 
" No I haven't. I never heerd of any such a article ! " 

" Well, 11 said the Captain, " ifs my belief as you'll know 
more about it pretty soon, if you don't keep a bright look 
out. I can read your signals, my lad. You may go." 

" Oh ! I may go at once, may I, Captain ? " cried Rob, 
exulting in his success. " But mind ! / never asked to go 
at once, Captain. You are not to take away my character 
again, because you send me off of your own accord. And 
you're not to stop any of my wages, Captain ! " 

His employer settled the last point by producing the tin 
canister and telling the Grinder's money out in full upon the 
table. Rob, snivelling and sobbing, and grievously wounded 
in his feelings, took up the pieces one by one, with a sob 
and a snivel for each, and tied them up separately in knots 
in his pocket-handkerchief; then he ascended to the roof 
of the house and filled his hat and pockets with pigeons; 
then, came down to his bed under the counter and made up 
his bundle, snivelling and sobbing louder as if he were cut to 
the heart by old associations ; then he whined, " Good night, 
Captain. I leave you without malice ! " and then, going out 
upon the door-step, pulled the little Midshipman's nose as a 
parting indignity, and went away down the street grinning 
triumph. 

The Captain, left to himself, resumed his perusal of the 
news as if nothing unusual or unexpected had taken place, 
and went reading on with the greatest assiduity. But never 
a word did Captain Cuttle understand, though he read a vast 
number, for Rob the Grinder was scampering up one column 
and down another all through the newspaper. 

It is doubtful whether the worthy Captain had ever felt 
himself quite abandoned until now; but now, old Sol Gills, 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE DESERTED. 139 

Walter, and Heart's Delight were lost to him indeed, and now 
Mr. Carker deceived and jeered him cruelly. They were all 
represented in the false Rob, to whom he had held forth many 
a time on the recollections that were warm within him ; he 
had believed in the false Rob, and had been glad to believe 
in him ; he had made a companion of him as the last of the 
old ship's company ; he had taken the command of the little 
Midshipman with him at his right hand; he had meant to 
do his duty by him, and had felt almost as kindly towards 
the boy as if they had been shipwrecked and cast upon a 
desert place together. And now, that the false Rob had 
brought distrust, treachery, and meanness into the very parlour, 
which was a kind of sacred place, Captain Cuttle felt as if the 
parlour might have gone down next, and not surprised him 
much by its sinking, or given him any very great concern. 

Therefore Captain Cuttle read the newspaper with profound 
attention and no comprehension, and therefore Captain Cuttle 
said nothing whatever about Rob to himself, or admitted to 
himself that he was thinking about him, or would recognise 
in the most distant manner that Rob had anything to do with 
his feeling as lonely as Robinson Crusoe. 

In the same composed, business-like way, the Captain stepped 
over to Leadenhall Market in the dusk, and effected an 
arrangement with a private watchman on duty there, to come 
and put up and take down the shutters of the Wooden Mid 
shipman every night and morning. He then called in at the 
eating-house to diminish by one half the daily rations thereto 
fore supplied to the Midshipman, and at the public-house to 
stop the traitor's beer. " My young man," said the Captain, 
in explanation to the young lady at the bar, " my young man 
having bettered himself, Miss. 1 " Lastly, the Captain resolved 
to take possession of the bed under the counter, and to 
turn in there o' nights instead of up stairs, as sole guardian 
of the property. 

From this bed Captain Cuttle daily rose thenceforth, and 
clapped on his glazed hat at six o'clock in the morning, with 



140 DOMBEY AND SON. 

the solitary air of Crusoe finishing his toilet with his goat-skin 
cap; and although his fears of a visitation from the savage 
tribe, MacStinger, were somewhat cooled, as similar apprehen 
sions on the part of that lone mariner used to be by the lapse 
of a long interval without any symptoms of the cannibals, he 
still observed a regular routine of defensive operations, and 
never encountered a bonnet without previous survey from his 
castle of retreat. In the meantime (during which he received 
no call from Mr. Toots, who wrote to say he was out of town) 
his own voice began to have a strange sound in his ears ; and 
he acquired such habits of profound meditation from much 
polishing and stowing away of the stock, and from much 
sitting behind the counter reading, or looking out of window, 
that the red rim made on his forehead by the hard glazed 
hat, sometimes ached again with excess of reflection. 

The year being now expired, Captain Cuttle deemed it 
expedient to open the packet ; but as he had always designed 
doing this in the presence of Rob the Grinder, who had 
brought it to him, and as he had an idea that it would be 
regular and ship-shape to open it in the presence of somebody, 
he was sadly put to it for want of a witness. In this difficulty, 
he hailed one day with unusual delight the announcement in 
the Shipping Intelligence of the arrival of the Cautious Clara, 
Captain John Bunsby, from a coasting voyage ; and to that 
philosopher immediately dispatched a letter by post, enjoining 
inviolable secrecy as to his place of residence, and requesting 
to be favoured with an early visit, in the evening season. 

Bunsby, who was one of those sages who act upon convic 
tion, took some days to get the conviction thoroughly into his 
mind, that he had received a letter to this effect. But when 
he had grappled with the fact, and mastered it, he promptly 
sent his boy with the message, "He's a coming to-night." 
Who being instructed to deliver those words and disappear, 
fulfilled his mission like a tarry spirit, charged with a mys 
terious warning. 

The Captain, well pleased to receive it, made preparation 



BUNSBY ARRIVES. 141 

of pipes and rum and water, and awaited his visitor in the 
back parlour. At the hour of eight, a deep lowing, as of a 
nautical Bull, outside the shop-door, succeeded by the knock 
ing of a stick on the panel, announced to the listening ear 
of Captain Cuttle, that Bunsby was alongside: whom he 
instantly admitted, shaggy and loose, and with his stolid 
mahogany visage, as usual, appearing to have no conscious 
ness of anything before it, but to be attentively observing 
something that was taking place in quite another part of 
the world. 

"Bunsby, 1 ' said the Captain, grasping him by the hand, 
"what cheer, my lad, what cheer?" 

" Shipmet, 11 replied the voice within Bunsby, unaccompanied 
by any sign on the part of the Commander himself, " hearty, 
hearty. 11 

" Bunsby ! " said the Captain, rendering irrepressible homage 
to his genius, " here you are ! a man as can give an opinion 
as is brighter than diamonds and give me the lad with the 
tarry trousers as shines to me like diamonds bright, for which 
you'll overhaul the StanfelFs Budget, and when found make a 
note. Here you are, a man as gave an opinion in this here 
very place, that has come true, every letter on it, 11 which the 
Captain sincerely believed. 

" Aye, aye ? " growled Bunsby. 

"Every letter, 11 said the Captain. 

"For why? 11 growled Bunsby, looking at his friend for 
the first time. " Which way ? If so, why not ? Therefore. 11 
With these oracular words they seemed almost to make the 
Captain giddy ; they launched him upon such a sea of specu 
lation and conjecture the sage submitted to be helped off 
with his pilot-coat, and accompanied his friend into the back 
parlour, where his hand presently alighted on the rum-bottle, 
from which he brewed a stiff glass of grog; and presently 
afterwards on a pipe, which he filled, lighted, and began to 
smoke. 

Captain Cuttle, imitating his visitor in the matter of these 



142 DOMBEY AND SON. 

particulars, though the rapt and imperturbable manner of 
the great Commander was far above his powers, sat in the 
opposite corner of the fireside, observing him respectfully, and 
as if he waited for some encouragement or expression of 
curiosity on Bunsby's part which should lead him to his own 
affairs. But as the mahogany philosopher gave no evidence 
of being sentient of anything but warmth and tobacco, except 
once, when taking his pipe from his lips to make room for 
his glass, he incidentally remarked with exceeding gruffness, 
that his name was Jack Bunsby a declaration that presented 
but small opening for conversation the Captain bespeaking 
his attention in a short complimentary exordium, narrated 
the whole history of Uncle Sol's departure, with the change 
it had produced in his own life and fortunes ; and concluded 
by placing the packet on the table. 

After a long pause, Mr. Bunsby nodded his head. 

"Open?" said the Captain. 

Bunsby nodded again. 

The Captain accordingly broke the seal, and disclosed to 
view two folded papers, of which he severally read the 
indorsements, thus : " Last Will and Testament of Solomon 
Gills." "Letter for Ned Cuttle." 

Bunsby, with his eye on the coast of Greenland, seemed to 
listen for the contents. The Captain therefore hemmed to 
clear his throat, and read the letter aloud. 

" My dear Ned Cuttle. When I left home for the W r est 
Indies '" 

Here the Captain stopped, and looked hard at Bunsby, 
who looked fixedly at the coast of Greenland. 

" ' in forlorn search of intelligence of my dear boy, I knew 
that if you were acquainted with my design, you would thwart 
it, or accompany me ; and therefore I kept it secret. If you 
ever read this letter, Ned, I am likely to be dead. You will 
easily forgive an old friend's folly then, and will feel for the 
restlessness and uncertainty in which he wandered away on 
such a wild voyage. So no more of that. I have little hope 



BUNSBY GIVES HIS OPINION. 143 

that my poor boy will ever read these words, or gladden your 
eyes with the sight of his frank face any more.'* No, no ; no 
more," said Captain Cuttle, sorrowfully meditating ; " no more. 
There he lays, all his days " 

Mr. Bunsby, who had a musical ear, suddenly bellowed, " In 
the Bays of Biscay, O ! " which so affected the good Captain, 
as an appropriate tribute to departed worth, that he shook 
him by the hand in acknowledgment, and was fain to wipe 
his eyes. 

" Well, well ! " said the Captain with a sigh, as the Lament 
of Bunsby ceased to ring and vibrate in the skylight. " Afflic 
tion sore, long time he bore, and let us overhaul the wollume, 
and there find it." 

"Physicians," observed Bunsby, "was in vain." 

" Aye, aye, to be sure," said the Captain, " what's the good 
o" them in two or three hundred fathoms o' water!" Then 
returning to the letter, he read on : " ' But if he should be 
by, when it is opened; 1 " the Captain involuntarily looked 
round, and shook his head; "'or should know of it at any 
other time;'" the Captain shook his head again; "'my 
blessing on him ! In case the accompanying paper is not 
legally written, it matters very little, for there is no one 
interested but you and he, and my plain wish is, that if he 
is living he should have what little there may be, and if (as 
I fear) otherwise, that you should have it, Ned. You will 
respect my wish, I know. God bless you for it, and for all 
your friendliness besides, to SOLOMON GILLS."* Bunsby ! " said 
the Captain, appealing to him solemnly, " what do you make of 
this ? There you sit, a man as has had his head broke from 
infancy upwards, and has got a new opinion into it at every 
seam as has been opened. Now, what do you make oi 1 this ? " 

"If so be," returned Bunsby, with unusual promptitude, 
"as he^s dead, my opinion is he won't come back no more. 
If so be as he's alive, my opinion is he will. Do I say he 
will? No. Why not? Because the bearings of this obser- 
wation lays in the application on it." 



144 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Bunsby ! " said Captain Cuttle, who would seem to have 
estimated the value of his distinguished friend's opinions in 
proportion to the immensity of the difficulty he experienced 
in making anything out of them ; " Bunsby," said the Captain, 
quite confounded by admiration, " you carry a weight of mind 
easy, as would swamp one of my tonnage soon. But in regard 
o' this here will, I don't mean to take no steps towards the 
property Lord forbid ! except to keep it for a more rightful 
owner; and I hope yet as the rightful owner, Sol Gills, is 
living and '11 come back, strange as it is that he ain't for 
warded no dispatches. Now, what is your opinion, Bunsby, 
as to stowing of these here papers away again, and marking 
outside as they was opened, such a day, in the presence of 
John Bunsby and Ed'ard Cuttle?" 

Bunsby, descrying no objection, on the coast of Greenland 
or elsewhere, to this proposal, it was carried into execution ; 
and that great man, bringing his eye into the present for a 
moment, affixed his sign-manual to the cover, totally abstain 
ing, with characteristic modesty, from the use of capital letters. 
Captain Cuttle, having attached his own left-handed signature, 
and locked up the packet in the iron safe, entreated his guest 
to mix another glass and smoke another pipe ; and doing the 
like himself, fell a musing over the fire on the possible fortunes 
of the poor old Instrument-maker. 

And now a surprise occurred, so overwhelming and terrific 
that Captain Cuttle, unsupported by the presence of Bunsby, 
must have sunk beneath it, and been a lost man from that 
fatal hour. 

How the Captain, even in the satisfaction of admitting such 
a guest, could have only shut the door, and not locked it, of 
which negligence he was undoubtedly guilty, is one of those 
questions that must for ever remain mere points of speculation, 
or vague charges against destiny. But by that unlocked door, 
at this quiet moment, did the fell MacStinger dash into 
the parlour, bringing Alexander MacStinger in her parental 
arms, and confusion and vengeance (not to mention Juliana 



AN ALARMING SURPRISE. 145 

MacStinger, and the sweet child's brother, Charles MacStinger, 
popularly known about the scenes of his youthful sports, as 
Chowley) in her train. She came so swiftly and so silently, 
like a rushing air from the neighbourhood of the East India 
Docks, that Captain Cuttle found himself in the very act of 
sitting looking at her, before the calm face with which he had 
been meditating, changed to one of horror and dismay. 

But the moment Captain Cuttle understood the full extent 
of his misfortune, self-preservation dictated an attempt at 
flight. Darting at the little door which opened from the 
parlour on the steep little range of cellar-steps, the Captain 
made a rush, head-foremost, at the latter, like a man indif 
ferent to bruises and contusions, who only sought to hide 
himself in the bowels of the earth. In this gallant effort he 
would probably have succeeded, but for the affectionate dis 
positions of Juliana and Chowley, who pinning him by the 
legs one of those dear children holding on to each claimed 
him as their friend, with lamentable cries. In the meantime, 
Mrs. MacStinger, who never entered upon any action of im 
portance without previously inverting Alexander MacStinger, 
to bring him within the range of a brisk battery of slaps, 
and then sitting him down to cool as the reader first beheld 
him, performed that solemn rite, as if on this occasion it 
were a sacrifice to the Furies ; ' and having deposited the 
victim on the floor, made at the Captain with a strength 
of purpose that appeared to threaten scratches to the inter 
posing Bunsby. 

The cries of the two elder MacStingers, and the wailing of 
young Alexander, who may be said to have passed a piebald 
childhood, forasmuch as he was black in the face during one 
half of that fairy period of existence, combined to make this 
visitation the more awful. But when silence reigned again, 
and the Captain, in a violent perspiration, stood meekly look 
ing at Mrs. MacStinger, its terrors were at their height. 

" Oh, Cap'en Cuttle, Cap'en Cuttle ! " said Mrs. MacStinger, 
making her chin rigid, and shaking it in unison with what* 

VOL. II. L 



146 DOMBEY AND SON. 

but for the weakness of her sex, might be described as her fist. 
" Oh, Cap'en Cuttle, Cap'en Cuttle, do you dare to look me 
in the face, and not be struck down in the herth ! " 

The Captain, who looked anything but daring, feebly 
muttered " Stand by ! " 

"Oh I was a weak and trusting Fool when I took you 
under my roof, Cap'en Cuttle, I was ! " cried Mrs. MacStinger. 
" To think of the benefits I've showered on that man, and the 
way in which I brought my children up to love and Aonour 
him as if he was a father to 'em, when there an"t a 'ousekeeper, 
no nor a lodger in our street, don't know that I lost money 
by that man, and by his guzzlings and his muzzlings" Mrs. 
MacStinger used the last word for the joint sake of allitera 
tion and aggravation, rather than for the expression of any 
idea " and when they cried out one and all, shame upon him 
for putting upon an industrious woman, up early and late for 
the good of her young family, and keeping her poor place so 
clean that a individual might have ate his dinner, yes, and 
his tea too, if he was so disposed, off any one of the floors or 
stairs, in spite of all his guzzlings and his muzzlings, such was 
the care and pains bestowed upon him ! " 

Mrs. MacStinger stopped to fetch her breath ; and her face 
flushed with triumph in this second happy introduction of 
Captain Cuttle's muzzlings. 

" And he runs awa-a-a-ay ! " cried Mrs. MacStinger, with a 
lengthening out of the last syllable that made the unfortunate 
Captain regard himself as the meanest of men ; " and keeps 
away a twelvemonth ! From a woman ! Sitch is his conscience ! 
He hasn't the courage to meet her hi-i-i-igh ; " long syllable 
again ; " but steals away, like a felion. Why, if that baby 
of mine," said Mrs. MacStinger, with sudden rapidity, "was 
to offer to go and steal away, I'd do my duty as a mother 
by him, till he was covered with wales ! " 

The young Alexander, interpreting this into a positive 
promise, to be shortly redeemed, tumbled over with fear and 
grief, and lay upon the floor, exhibiting the soles of his shoes 



BUNSBY SUBDUES MRS. MACSTINGER. 147 

and making such a deafening outcry, that Mrs. MacStinger 
found it necessary to take him up in her arms, where she 
quieted him, ever and anon, as he broke out again, by a shake 
that seemed enough to loosen his teeth. 

"A pretty sort of a man is Cap'en Cuttle,"" said Mrs. 
MacStinger, with a sharp stress on the first syllable of the 
Captain's name, " to take on for and to lose sleep for and 
to faint along of and to think dead forsooth and to go up 
and down the blessed town like a mad woman, asking questions 
after ! Oh, a pretty sort of a man ! Ha ha ha ha ! He's 
worth all that trouble and distress of mind, and much more. 
Thafs nothing, bless you ! Ha ha ha ha ! Cap'en Cuttle," 
said Mrs. MacStinger, with severe re-action in her voice and 
manner, " I wish to know if you're a-coming home." 

The frightened Captain looked into his hat, as if he saw 
nothing for it but to put it on, and give himself up. 

" Cap'en Cuttle," repeated Mrs. MacStinger, in the same 
determined manner, "I wish to know if you're a-coming 
home, Sir." 

The Captain seemed quite ready to go, but faintly sug 
gested something to the effect of " not making so much noise 
about it." 

" Aye, aye, aye," said Bunsby, in a soothing tone. " Awast, 
my lass, awast ! " 

"And who may YOU be, if you please!" retorted Mrs. 
MacStinger, with chaste loftiness. " Did you ever lodge at 
Number Nine, Brig Place, Sir? My memory may be bad, 
but not with me, I think. There was a Mrs. Jollson lived 
at Number Nine before me, and perhaps you're mistaking 
me for her. That is my only ways of accounting for your 
familiarity, Sir." 

" Come, come, my lass, awast, awast ! " said Bunsby. 

Captain Cuttle could hardly believe it, even of this great 
man, though he saw it done with his waking eyes ; but 
Bunsby, advancing boldly, put his shaggy blue arm round 
Mrs. MacStinger, and so softened her by his magic way of 



148 DOMBEY AND SON. 

doing it, and by these few words he said no more that she 
melted into tears, after looking upon him for a few moments, 
and observed that a child might conquer her now, she was so 
low in her courage. 

Speechless and utterly amazed, the Captain saw him gradu 
ally persuade this inexorable woman into the shop, return for 
rum and water and a candle, take them to her, and pacify her 
without appearing to utter one word. Presently he looked 
in with his pilot-coat on, and said, "Cuttle, Fm a-going 
to act as convoy home ; " and Captain Cuttle, more to his 
confusion than if he had been put in irons himself, for safe 
transport to Brig Place, saw the family pacifically filing off, 
with Mrs. MacStinger at their head. He had scarcely time 
to take down his canister, and stealthily convey some money 
into the hands of Juliana MacStinger, his former favourite, and 
Chowley, who had the claim upon him that he was naturally 
of a maritime build, before the Midshipman was abandoned 
by them all ; and Bunsby whispering that he'd carry on smart, 
and hail Ned Cuttle again before he went aboard, shut the 
door upon himself, as the last member of the party. 

Some uneasy ideas that he must be walking in his sleep, or 
that he had been troubled with phantoms, and not a family of 
flesh and blood, beset the Captain at first, when he went back 
to the little parlour, and found himself alone. Illimitable 
faith in, and immeasurable admiration of, the Commander of 
the Cautious Clara, succeeded, and threw the Captain into a 
wondering trance. 

Still, as time wore on, and Bunsby failed to reappear, the 
Captain began to entertain uncomfortable doubts of another 
kind. Whether Bunsby had been artfully decoyed to Brig 
Place, and was there detained in safe custody as hostage for 
his friend ; in which case it would become the Captain, as a 
man of honour, to release him, by the sacrifice of his own 
liberty. Whether he had been attacked and defeated by Mrs. 
MacStinger, and was ashamed to show himself after his dis 
comfiture. Whether Mrs. MacStinger, thinking better of it, 



BUNSBY RETURNS. 149 

in the uncertainty of her temper, had turned back to board 
the Midshipman again, and Bunsby, pretending to conduct 
her by a short cut, was endeavouring to lose the family amid 
the wilds and savage places of the City. Above all, what it 
would behove him, Captain Cuttle, to do, in case of his hearing- 
no more, either of the MacStingers or of Bunsby, which, in 
these wonderful and unforeseen conjunctions of events, might 
possibly happen. 

He debated all this until he was tired ; and still no Bunsby. 
He made up his bed under the counter, all ready for turning 
in ; and still no Bunsby. At length, when the Captain had 
given him up, for that night at least, and had begun to undress, 
the sound of approaching wheels was heard, and, stopping at 
the door, was succeeded by Bunsby's hail. 

The Captain trembled to think that Mrs. MacStinger was 
not to be got rid of, and had been brought back in a coach. 

But no. Bunsby was accompanied by nothing but a large 
box, which he hauled into the shop with his own hands, and 
as soon as he had hauled in, sat upon. Captain Cuttle knew 
it for the chest he had left at Mrs. MacStinger's house, and 
looking, candle in hand, at Bunsby more attentively, be 
lieved that he was three sheets in the wind, or, in plain words, 
drunk. It was difficult, however, to be sure of this ; the 
Commander having no trace of expression in his face when 
sober. 

"Cuttle," said the Commander, getting off the chest, and 
opening the lid, " are these here your traps ? " 

Captain Cuttle looked in and identified his property. 

" Done pretty taut and trim, hey, shipmet ? " said Bunsby. 

The grateful and bewildered Captain grasped him by 
the hand, and was launching into a reply expressive of his 
astonished feelings, when Bunsby disengaged himself by a 
jerk of his wrist, and seemed to make an effort to wink with 
his revolving eye, the only effect of which attempt, in his 
condition, was nearly to overbalance him. He then abruptly 
opened the door, and shot away to rejoin the Cautious 



150 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Clara with all speed supposed to be his invariable custom, 
whenever he considered he had made a point. 

As it was not his humour to be often sought, Captain Cuttle 
decided not to go or send to him next day, or until he should 
make his gracious pleasure known in such wise, or failing 
that, until some little time should have elapsed. The Captain, 
therefore, renewed his solitary life next morning, and thought 
profoundly, many mornings, noons, and nights, of old Sol 
Gills, and Bunsby"s sentiments concerning him, and the hopes 
there were of his return. Much of such thinking strengthened 
Captain Cuttle's hopes ; and he humoured them and himself by 
watching for the Instrument-maker at the door as he ventured 
to do now, in his strange liberty and setting his chair in its 
place, and arranging the little parlour as it used to be, in 
case he should come home unexpectedly. He likewise, in his 
thoughtfulness, took down a certain little miniature of Walter 
as a schoolboy, from its accustomed nail, lest it should shock 
the old man on his return. The Captain had his presenti 
ments, too, sometimes, that he would come on such a day; 
and one particular Sunday, even ordered a double allowance 
of dinner, he was so sanguine. But come, old Solomon did 
not; and still the neighbours noticed how the seafaring man 
in the glazed hat, stood at the shop-door of an evening, 
looking up and down the street. 



CHAPTER XL. 

DOMESTIC RELATIONS. 

IT was not in the nature of things that a man of Mr. 
Dombey's mood, opposed to such a spirit as he had raised 
against himself, should be softened in the imperious asperity 
of his temper ; or that the cold hard armour of pride in which 
he lived encased, should be made more flexible by constant 
collision with haughty scorn and defiance. It is the curse of 
such a nature it is a main part of the heavy retribution on 
itself it bears within itself that while deference and conces 
sion swell its evil qualities, and are the food it grows upon, 
resistance and a questioning of its exacting claims, foster it 
too, no less. The evil that is in it finds equally its means of 
growth and propagation in opposites. It draws support and 
life from sweets and bitters ; bowed down before, or unacknow 
ledged, it still enslaves the breast in which it has its throne ; 
and, worshipped or rejected, is as hard a master as the Devil 
in dark fables. 

Towards his first wife, Mr. Dombey, in his cold and lofty 
arrogance, had borne himself like the removed Being he almost 
conceived himself to be. He had been " Mr. Dombey " with 
her when she first saw him, and he was " Mr. Dombey " when 
she died. He had asserted his greatness during their whole 
married life, and she had meekly recognised it. He had kept 
his distant seat of state on the top of his throne, and she her 
humble station on its lowest step ; and much good it had done 
him, so to live in solitary bondage to his one idea ! He had 



152 DOMBEY AND SON. 

imagined that the proud character of his second wife would 
have been added to his own would have merged into it, and 
exalted his greatness. He had pictured himself haughtier 
than ever, with Editfr's haughtiness subservient to his. He 
had never entertained the possibility of its arraying itself 
against him. And now, when he found it rising in his 
path at every step and turn of his daily life, fixing its cold, 
defiant, and contemptuous face upon him, this pride of his, 
instead of withering, or hanging down its head beneath the 
shock, put forth new shoots, became more concentrated and 
intense, more gloomy, sullen, irksome, and unyielding, than 
it had ever been before. 

Who wears such armour, too, bears with him ever another 
heavy retribution. It is of proof against conciliation, love, 
and confidence ! against all gentle sympathy from without, 
all trust, all tenderness, all soft emotion ; but to deep stabs 
in the self-love, it is as vulnerable as the bare breast to steel ; 
and such tormenting festers rankle there, as follow on no 
other wounds, no, though dealt with the mailed hand of 
Pride itself, on weaker pride, disarmed and thrown down. 

Such wounds were his. He felt them sharply, in the solitude 
of his old rooms ; whither he now began often to retire again, 
and pass long solitary hours. It seemed his fate to be ever 
proud and powerful ; ever humbled and powerless where he 
would be most strong. Who seemed fated to work out that 
doom ? 

Who ? Who was it who could win his wife as she had won 
his boy ? Who was it who had shown him that new victory, 
as he sat in the dark corner? Who was it whose least word 
did what his utmost means could not ? Who was it who, un 
aided by his love, regard or notice, thrived and grew beautiful 
when those so aided died ? Who could it be, but the same 
child at whom he had often glanced uneasily in her motherless 
infancy, with a kind of dread, lest he might come to hate her ; 
and of whom his foreboding was fulfilled, for he DID hate her 
in his heart? 



A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF. 153 

Yes, and he would have it hatred, and he made it hatred, 
though some sparkles of the light in which she had appeared 
before him on the memorable night of his return home with 
his Bride, occasionally hung about her still. He knew now 
that she was beautiful ; he did not dispute that she was graceful 
and winning, and that in the bright dawn of her womanhood 
she had come upon him, a surprise. But he turned even this 
against her. In his sullen and unwholesome brooding, the 
unhappy man, with a dull perception of his alienation from 
all hearts, and a vague yearning for what he had all his life 
repelled, made a distorted picture of his rights and wrongs, 
and justified himself with it against her. The worthier she 
promised to be of him, the greater claim he was disposed to 
ante-date upon her duty and submission. When had she ever 
shown him duty and submission ? Did she grace his life or 
Edith's ? Had her attractions been manifested first to him 
or Edith ? Why, he and she had never been, from her birth, 
like father and child ! They had always been estranged. She 
had crossed him every way and everywhere. She was leagued 
against him now. Her very beauty softened natures that were 
obdurate to him, and insulted him with an unnatural triumph. 
It may have been that in all this there were mutterings of 
an awakened feeling in his breast, however selfishly aroused 
by his position of disadvantage, in comparison with what she 
might have made his life. But he silenced the distant thunder 
with the rolling of his sea of pride. He would bear nothing 
but his pride. And in his pride, a heap of inconsistency, and 
misery, and self-inflicted torment, he hated her. 

To the moody, stubborn, sullen demon, that possessed him, 
his wife opposed her different pride in its full force. They 
never could have led a happy life together ; but nothing could 
have made it more unhappy, than the wilful and determined 
warfare of such elements. His pride was set upon maintaining 
his magnificent supremacy, and forcing recognition of it from 
her. She would have been racked to death, and turned but 
her haughty glance of calm inflexible disdain upon him, to the 



154 DOMBEY AND SON. 

last. Such recognition from Edith ! He little knew through 
what a storm and struggle she had been driven onward to 
the crowning honour of his hand. He little knew how much 
she thought she had conceded, when she suffered him to call 
her wife. 

Mr. Dombey was resolved to show her that he was supreme. 
There must be no will but his. Proud he desired that she 
should be, but she must be proud for, not against him. As 
he sat alone, hardening, he would often hear her go out and 
come home, treading the round of London life with no more 
heed of his liking or disliking, pleasure or displeasure, than 
if he had been her groom. Her cold supreme indifference his 
own unquestioned attribute usurped stung him more than 
any other kind of treatment could have done ; and he deter 
mined to bend her to his magnificent and stately will. 

He had been long communing with these thoughts, when 
one night he sought her in her own apartment, after he had 
heard her return home late. She was alone, in her brilliant 
dress, and had but that moment come from her mother's room. 
Her face was melancholy and pensive, when he came upon 
her ; but it marked him at the door ; for, glancing at the 
mirror before it, he saw immediately, as in a picture-frame, 
the knitted brow, and darkened beauty that he knew so well. 

"Mrs. Dombey ," he said, entering, "I must beg leave to 
have a few words with you.' 1 

"To-morrow," she replied. 

"There is no time like the present, Madam," he returned. 
"You mistake your position. I am used to choose my own 
times ; not to have them chosen for me. I think you scarcely 
understand who and what I am, Mrs. Dombey." 

"I think," she answered, "that I understand you very 
well." 

She looked upon him as she said so, and folding her white 
arms, sparkling with gold and gems, upon her swelling breast, 
turned away her eyes. 

If she had been less handsome, and less stately in her cold 



MR. DOMBEY IS DISPLEASED. 155 

composure, she might not have had the power of impressing 
him with the sense of disadvantage that penetrated through 
his utmost pride. But she had the power, and he felt it 
keenly. He glanced round the room : saw how the splendid 
means of personal adornment, and the luxuries of dress, were 
scattered here and there, and disregarded ; not in mere 
caprice and carelessness (or so he thought), but in a steadfast, 
haughty disregard of costly things : and felt it more and more. 
Chaplets of flowers, plumes of feathers, jewels, laces, silks 
and satins ; look where he would, he saw riches, despised, 
poured out, and made of no account. The very diamonds a 
marriage gift that rose and fell impatiently upon her 
bosom, seemed to pant to break the chain that clasped them 
round her neck, and roll down on the floor where she might 
tread upon them. 

He felt his disadvantage, and he showed it. Solemn and 
strange among this wealth of colour and voluptuous glitter, 
strange and constrained towards its haughty mistress, whose 
repellent beauty it repeated, and presented all around him, 
as in so many fragments of a mirror, he was conscious of em 
barrassment and awkwardness. Nothing that ministered to 
her disdainful self-possession could fail to gall him. Galled 
and irritated with himself, he sat down, and Avent on in no 

improved humour : 

"Mrs. Dombey, it is very necessary that there should be 

some understanding arrived at between us. Your conduct 

does not please me, Madam." 

She merely glanced at him again, and again averted her 

eyes; but she might have spoken for an hour, and expressed 

less. 

" I repeat, Mrs. Dombey, does not please me. I have 

already taken occasion to request that it may be corrected. 

I now insist upon it. 1 ' 

" You chose a fitting occasion for your first remonstrance, 

Sir, and you adopt a fitting manner, and a fitting word for 

your second. You insist ! To me ! " 



156 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Madam,"" said Mr. Dombey, with his most offensive air 
of state, " I have made you my wife. You bear my name. 
You are associated with my position and my reputation. 
I will not say that the world in general may be disposed 
to think you honoured by that association ; but I will say 
that I am accustomed to 'insist, 1 to my connections and 
dependents." 

" Which may you be pleased to consider me ? " she asked. 

"Possibly I may think that my wife should partake or 
does partake, and cannot help herself of both characters, 
Mrs. Dombey." 

She bent her eyes upon him steadily, and set her trembling 
lips. He saw her bosom throb, and saw her face flush and 
turn white. All this he could know, and did : but he could 
not know that one word was whispering in the deep recesses 
of her heart, to keep her quiet; and that the word was 
Florence. 

Blind idiot, rushing to a precipice ! He thought she stood 
in awe of him ! 

" You are too expensive, Madam," said Mr. Dombey. 
" You are extravagant. You waste a great deal of money 
or what would be a great deal in the pockets of most gentle 
men in cultivating a kind of society that is useless to me, 
and, indeed, that upon the whole is disagreeable to me. I 
have to insist upon a total change in all these respects. I 
know that in the novelty of possessing a tithe of such means 
as Fortune has placed at your disposal, ladies are apt to run 
into a sudden extreme. There has been more than enough 
of that extreme. I beg that Mrs. Granger's very different 
experiences may now come to the instruction of Mrs. Dombey." 

Still the fixed look, the trembling lips, the throbbing 
breast, the face now crimson and now white ; and still the deep 
whisper Florence, Florence, speaking to her in the beating of 
her heart. 

His insolence of self-importance dilated as he saw this 
alteration in her. Swollen no less by her past scorn of him, 



MR. DOMBEY DEMANDS OBEDIENCE. 157 

and his so recent feeling of disadvantage, than by her present 
submission (as he took it to be), it became too mighty for his 
breast, and burst all bounds. Why, who could long resist 
his lofty will and pleasure ! He had resolved to conquer her, 
and look here ! 

"You will further please, Madam, 11 said Mr. Dombey, in 
a tone of sovereign command, " to understand distinctly, that 
I am to be deferred to and obeyed. That I must have a 
positive show and confession of deference before the world, 
Madam. I am used to this. I require it as my right. In 
short I will have it. I consider it no unreasonable return for 
the. worldly advancement that has befallen you ; and I believe 
pobody will be surprised, either at its being required from 
you, or at your making it. To Me To Me! 11 he added, 
with emphasis. 

No word from her. No change in her. Her eyes upon 
him. 

" I have learnt from your mother, Mrs. Dombey," said Mr. 
Dombey, with magisterial importance, " what no doubt you 
know, namely, that Brighton is recommended for her health. 
Mr. Carker has been so good " 

She changed suddenly. Her face and bosom glowed as if 
the red light of an angry sunset had been flung upon them. 
Not unobservant of the change, and putting his own inter 
pretation upon it, Mr. Dombey resumed : 

"Mr. Carker has been so good as to go down and secure 
a house there, for a time. On the return of the establish 
ment to London, I shall take such steps for its better 
management as I consider necessary. One of these, will be 
the engagement at Brighton (if it is to be effected), of a very 
respectable reduced person there, a Mrs. Pipchin, formerly 
employed in a situation of trust in my family, to act as 
housekeeper. An establishment like this, presided over but 
nominally, Mrs. Dombey, requires a competent head. 11 

She had changed her attitude before he arrived at these 
words, and now sat still looking at him fixedly turning a 



158 DOMBEY AND SON. 

bracelet round and round upon her arm; not winding it 
about with a light, womanly touch, but pressing and dragging 
it over the smooth skin, until the white limb showed a bar 
of red. 

" I observed,"" said Mr. Dombey " and this concludes what 
I deem it necessary to say to you at present, Mrs. Dombey 
I observed a moment ago, Madam, that my allusion to Mr. 
Carker was received in a peculiar manner. On the occasion 
of my happening to point out to you, before that confidential 
agent, the objection I had to your mode of receiving my 
visitors, you were pleased to object to his presence. You 
will have to get the better of that objection, Madam, and to 
accustom yourself to it very probably on many similar occa 
sions ; unless you adopt the remedy which is in your own 
hands, of giving me no cause of complaint. Mr. Carker, 1 ' 
said Mr. Dombey, who, after the emotion he had just seen, 
set great store by this means of reducing his proud wife, and 
who was perhaps sufficiently willing to exhibit his power to 
that gentleman in a new and triumphant aspect, " Mr. Carker. 
being in my confidence, Mrs. Dombey, may very well be in 
yours to such an extent. I hope, Mrs. Dombey, 11 he con 
tinued, after a few moments, during which, in his increasing- 
haughtiness, he had improved on his idea, " I may not find 
it necessary ever to intrust Mr. Carker with any message 
of objection or remonstrance to you ; but as it would be 
derogatory to my position and reputation to be frequently 
holding trivial disputes with a lady upon whom I have con 
ferred the highest distinction that it is in my power to 
bestow, I shall not scruple to avail myself of his services if 
I see occasion. 11 

"And now, 11 he thought, rising in his moral magnificence, 
and rising a stiffer and more impenetrable man than ever, 
" she knows me and my resolution. 11 

The hand that had so pressed the bracelet was laid heavily 
upon her breast, but she looked at him still, with an un 
altered face, and said in a low voice : 



NOT TO BE BENT, NOT TO BE BROKEN. 159 

" Wait ! For God's sake ! I must speak to you." 

Why did she not, and what was the inward struggle that 
rendered her incapable of doing so, for minutes, while, in the 
strong constraint she put upon her face, it was as fixed as 
any statue^s looking upon him with neither yielding nor 
unyielding, liking nor hatred, pride nor humility: nothing 
but a searching gaze ? 

" Did I ever tempt you to seek my hand ? Did I ever use 
any art to win you? Was I ever more conciliating to you 
when you pursued me, than I have been since our marriage ? 
Was I ever other to you than I am?" 

" It is wholly unnecessary, Madam," said Mr. Dombey, " to 
enter upon such discussions." 

" Did you think I loved you ? Did you know I did not ? 
Did you ever care, Man ! for my heart, or propose to yourself 
to win the worthless thing? Was there any poor pretence 
of any in our bargain ? Upon your side, or on mine ? " 

" These questions," said Mr. Dombey, " are all wide of the 
purpose, Madam." 

She moved between him and the door to prevent his going 
away, and drawing her majestic figure to its height, looked 
steadily upon him still. 

" You answer each of them. You answer me before I 
speak, I see. How can you help it; you who know the 
miserable truth as well as I ? Now, tell me. If I loved you 
to devotion, could I do more than render up my whole will 
and being to you, as you have just demanded ? If my heart 
were pure and all untried, and you its idol, could you ask 
more; could you have more?" 

"Possibly not, Madam," he returned coolly. 

"You know how different I am. You see me looking on 
you now, and you can read the warmth of passion for you 
that is breathing in my face." Not a curl of the proud 
lip, not a flash of the dark eye, nothing but the same intent 
and searching look, accompanied these words. "You know 
my general history. You have spoken of my mother. Do 



160 DOMBEY AND SON. 

you think you can degrade, or bend or break, me to sub 
mission and obedience?' 1 

Mr. Dombey smiled, as he might have smiled at an inquiry 
whether he thought he could raise ten thousand pounds. 

"If there is anything unusual here," she said, with a 
slight motion of her hand before her brow, which did not 
for a moment flinch from its immoveable and otherwise 
expressionless gaze, " as I know there are unusual feelings 
here," raising the hand she pressed upon her bosom, and 
heavily returning it, "consider that there is no common 
meaning in the appeal I am going to make you. Yes, for 
I am going; 1 ' she said it as in prompt reply to something 
in his face ; " to appeal to you. 11 

Mr. Dombey, with a slightly condescending bend of his chin 
that rustled and crackled his stiff cravat, sat down on a sofa 
that was near him, to hear the appeal. 

" If you can believe that I am of such a nature now, 11 he 
fancied he saw tears glistening in her eyes, and he thought, 
complacently, that he had forced them from her, though 
none fell on her cheek, and she regarded him as steadily as 
ever, "as would make what I now say almost incredible to 
myself, said to any man who had become my husband, but, 
above all, said to you, you may, perhaps, attach the greater 
weight to it. In the dark end to which we are tending, and 
may come, we shall not involve ourselves alone (that might 
not be much) but others. 11 

Others ! He knew at whom that word pointed, and 
frowned heavily. 

"I speak to you for the sake of others. Also your own 
sake; and for mine. Since our marriage, you have been 
arrogant to me; and I have repaid you in kind. You have 
shown to me and every one around us, every day and hour, 
that you think I am graced and distinguished by your 
alliance. I do not think so, and have shown that too. It 
seems you do not understand, or (so far as your power can 
go) intend that each of us shall take a separate course; 



A MOST UNHAPPY PAIR. 161 

and you expect from me instead, a homage you will never 
have. 1 ' 

Although her face was still the same, there was emphatic 
confirmation of this " Never " in the very breath she drew. 

" I feel no tenderness towards you ; that you know. You 
would care nothing for it, if I did or could. I know as 
well that you feel none towards me. But we are linked 
together ; and in the knot that ties us, as I have said, others 
are bound up. We must both die ; we are both connected 
with the dead already, each by a little child. Let us forbear. r> 

Mr. Dombey took a long respiration, as if he would have 
said, Oh ! was this all ! 

"There is no wealth," 11 she went on, turning paler as she 
watched him, while her eyes grew yet more lustrous in their 
earnestness, " that could buy these words of me, and the 
meaning that belongs to them. Once cast away as idle 
breath, no wealth or power can bring them back. I mean 
them ; I have weighed them ; and I will be true to what I 
undertake. If you will promise to forbear on your part, I 
will promise to forbear on mine. We are a most unhappy 
pair, in whom, from different causes, every sentiment that 
blesses marriage, or justifies it, is rooted out; but in the 
course of time, some friendship, or some fitness for each other, 
may arise between us. I will try to hope so, if you will 
make the endeavour too ; and I will look forward to a better 
and a happier use of age than I have made of youth or 
prime. 1 ' 

Throughout she had spoken in a low plain voice, that 
neither rose nor fell ; ceasing, she dropped the hand with 
which she had enforced herself to be so passionless and distinct, 
but not the eyes with which she had so steadily observed him. 

" Madam, 11 said Mr. Dombey, with his utmost dignity, " I 
cannot entertain any proposal of this extraordinary nature/ 1 

She looked at him yet, without the least change. 

" I cannot/ 1 said Mr. Dombey, rising as he spoke, " consent 
to temporise or treat with you, Mrs. Dombey, upon a subject 

VOL. II. M 



162 DOMBEY AND SON. 

as to which you are in possession of my opinions and expec 
tations. I have stated my ultimatum, Madam, and have only 
to request your very serious attention to it. 1 " 

To see the face change to its old expression, deepened in 
intensity! To see the eyes droop as from some mean and 
odious object ! To see the lighting of the haughty brow ! 
To see scorn, anger, indignation, and abhorrence starting into 
sight, and the pale blank earnestness vanish like a mist ! He 
could not choose but look, although he looked to his dismay. 

"Go, Sir!" she said, pointing with an imperious hand 
towards the door. "Our first and last confidence is at an 
end. Nothing can make us stranger to each other than we 
are henceforth." 

"I shall take my rightful course, Madam," said Mr. 
Dombey, "undeterred, you may be sure, by any general 
declamation." 

She turned her back upon him, and, without reply, sat 
down before her glass. 

" I place my reliance on your improved sense of duty, and 
more correct feeling, and better reflexion, Madam," said Mr. 
Dombey. 

She answered not one word. He saw no more expression 
of any heed of him, in the mirror, than if he had been an 
unseen spider on the wall, or beetle on the floor, or rather, 
than if he had been the one or other, seen and crushed 
when she last turned from him, and forgotten among the 
ignominious and dead vermin of the ground. 

He looked back, as he went out at the door, upon the 
well-lighted and luxurious room, the beautiful and glittering 
objects everywhere displayed, the shape of Edith in its rich 
dress seated before her glass, and the face of Edith as the 
glass presented it to him ; and betook himself to his old 
chamber of cogitation, carrying away with him a vivid picture 
in his mind of all these things, and a rambling and unaccount 
able speculation (such as sometimes comes into a man^s head) 
how they would all look when he saw them next. 



MR. DOMBEY HOLDS HIS COURSE. 163 

For the rest, Mr. Dombey was very taciturn, and very 
dignified, and very confident of carrying out his purpose ; 
and remained so. 

He did not design accompanying the family to Brighton; 
but he graciously informed Cleopatra at breakfast, on the 
morning of departure, which arrived a day or two afterwards, 
that he might be expected down, soon. There was no time 
to be lost in getting Cleopatra to any place recommended as 
being salutary; for, indeed, she seemed upon the wane, and 
turning of the earth, earthy. 

Without having undergone any decided second attack of 
her malady, the old woman seemed to have crawled backward 
in her recovery from the first. She was more lean and 
shrunken, more uncertain in her imbecility, and made 
stranger confusions in her mind and memory. Among other 
symptoms of this last affliction, she fell into the habit of 
confounding the names of her two sons-in-law, the living 
and the deceased ; and in general called Mr. Dombey, either 
" Grangeby, 11 or " Domber, 1 ' or indifferently, both. 

But she was youthful, very youthful still; and in her 
youthfulness appeared at breakfast, before going away, in a 
new bonnet made express, and a travelling robe that was 
embroidered and braided like an old baby's. It was not easy 
to put her into a fly-away bonnet now, or to keep the 
bonnet in its place on the back of her poor nodding head, 
when it was got on. In this instance, it had not only the 
extraneous effect of being always on one side, but of being 
perpetually tapped on the crown by Flowers the maid, who 
attended in the background during breakfast to perform that 
duty. 

"Now, my dearest Grangeby, 11 said Mrs. Skewton, "you 
must posively prom, 1 ' she cut some of her words short, and 
cut out others altogether, "come down very soon. 1 ' 

"I said just now, Madam, 1 '' returned Mr. Dombey, loudly 
and laboriously, " that I am coming in a day or two.* 

"Bless you, Domber! 11 



164 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Here the Major, who was come to take leave of the ladies, 
and who was staring through his apoplectic eyes at Mrs. 
Skewton's face, with the disinterested composure of an im 
mortal being, said : 

" Begad, Ma'am, you don't ask old Joe to come ! " 

"Sterious wretch, who's he?" lisped Cleopatra. But a tap 
on the bonnet from Flowers seeming to jog her memory, she 
added, " Oh ! You mean yourself, you naughty creature ! " 

" Devilish queer, Sir," whispered the Major to Mr. Dombey. 
"Bad case. Never did wrap up enough;" the Major being 
buttoned to the chin. " Why who should J. B. mean by Joe, 
but old Joe Bagstock Joseph your slave Joe, Ma'am ? 
Here ! Here's the man ! Here are the Bagstock bellows, 
Ma'am ! " cried the Major, striking himself a sounding blow 
on the chest. 

" My dearest Edith Grangeby it's most trordinry thing," 
.said Cleopatra, pettishly, "that Major " 

"Bagstock! J. B. !" cried the Major, seeing that she 
faltered for his name. 

" Well, it don't matter," said Cleopatra. " Edith, my love, 
you know I never could remember names what was it ? oh ! 
most trordinry thing that so many people want to come 
down to see me. I'm not going for long. I'm coming back. 
Surely they can wait, till I come back ! " 

Cleopatra looked all round the table as she said it, and 
appeared very uneasy. 

"I won't have visitors really don't want visitors," she 
said ; " little repose and all that sort of thing is what I 
quire. No odious brutes must proach me till I've shaken off' 
this numbness ; " and in a grisly resumption of her coquettish 
ways, she made a dab at the Major with her fan, but overset 
Mr. Dombey's breakfast cup instead, which was in quite a 
different direction. 

Then she called for Withers, and charged him to see 
particularly that word was left about some trivial alterations 
in her room, which must be all made before she came back, 



CLEOPATRA WATCHES EDITH'S FACE. 165 

and which must be set about immediately, as there was no 
saying how soon she might come back ; for she had a great 
many engagements, and all sorts of people to call upon. 
Withers received these directions with becoming deference, 
and gave his guarantee for their execution ; but when he 
withdrew a pace or two behind her, it appeared as if he 
couldn't help looking strangely at the Major, who couldn't 
help looking strangely at Mr. Dombey, who couldn't help 
looking strangely at Cleopatra, who couldn't help nodding 
her bonnet over one eye, and rattling her Imife and fork 
upon her plate in using them, as if she were playing 
castanets. 

Edith alone never lifted her eyes to any face at the table, 
and never seemed dismayed by anything her mother said or 
did. She listened to her disjointed talk, or at least, turned 
her head towards her when addressed; replied in a few low 
words when necessary ; and sometimes stopped her when she 
was rambling, or brought her thoughts back with a mono 
syllable, to the point from which they had strayed. The 
mother, however unsteady in other things, was constant in 
this that she was always observant of her. She would look 
at the beautiful face, in its marble stillness and severity, now 
with a kind of fearful admiration ; now in a giggling foolish 
effort to move it to a smile; now with capricious tears and 
jealous shakings of her head, as imagining herself neglected 
by it ; always with an attraction towards it, that never 
fluctuated like her other ideas, but had constant possession 
of her. From Edith she would sometimes look at Florence, 
and back again at Edith, in a manner that was wild enough ; 
and sometimes she would try to look elsewhere, as if to escape 
from her daughter's face; but back to it she seemed forced 
to come, although it never sought hers unless sought, or 
troubled her with one single glance. 

The breakfast concluded, Mrs. Skewton, affecting to lean 
girlishly upon the Major's arm, but heavily supported on 
the other side by Flowers the maid, and propped up behind 



166 DOMBEY AND SON. 

by Withers the page, was conducted to the carriage, which 
was to take her, Florence, and Edith to Brighton. 

"And is Joseph absolutely banished? 1 ' said the Major, 
thrusting in his purple face over the steps. "Damme, 
Ma'am, is Cleopatra so hard-hearted as to forbid her faithful 
Antony Bagstock to approach the presence?" 

" Go along ! " said Cleopatra, " I can't bear you. You 
shall see me when I come back, if you are very good." 

"Tell Joseph, he may live in hope, Ma'am," said the Major; 
" or he'll die in despair." 

Cleopatra shuddered, and leaned back. " Edith, my dear," 
she said. " Tell him " 

"What?" 

"Such dreadful words," said Cleopatra. "He uses such 
dreadful words ! " 

Edith signed to him to retire, gave the word to go on, 
and left the objectionable Major to Mr. Dombey. To whom 
he returned, whistling. 

"I'll tell you what, Sir," said the Major, with his hands 
behind him, and his legs very wide asunder, " a fair friend of 
ours has removed to Queer Street." 

"What do you mean, Major?" inquired Mr. Dombey. 

"I mean to say, Dombey," returned the Major, "that 
you'll soon be an orphan-in-law." 

Mr. Dombey appeared to relish this waggish description 
of himself so very little, that the Major wound up with the 
horse's cough, as an expression of gravity. 

"Damme, Sir," said the Major, "there is no use in dis 
guising a fact. Joe is blunt, Sir. That's his nature. If 
you take old Josh at all, you take him as you find him ; 
and a de-vilish rusty, old rasper, of a close-toothed, J. B. 
file, you do find him. Dombey," said the Major, "your wife's 
mother is on the move, Sir." 

"I fear," returned Mr. Dombey, with much philosophy, 
"that Mrs. Skewton is shaken." 

" Shaken, Dombey ! " said the Major. " Smashed ! " 



CLEOPATRA GOING DOWN-HILL. 167 

"Change, however," pursued Mr. Dombey, "and attention 
may do much yet. 1 ' 

"Don't believe it, Sir," returned the Major. "Damme, 
Sir, she never wrapped up enough. If a man don't wrap 
up," said the Major, taking in another button of his buff 
waistcoat, "he has nothing to fall back upon. But some 
people will die. They will do it. Damme, they will. 
They're obstinate. I tell you what, Dombey, it may not be 
ornamental ; it may not be refined ; it may be rough and 
tough; but a little of the genuine old English Bagstock 
stamina, Sir, would do all the good in the world to the 
human breed." 

After imparting this precious piece of information, the 
Major, who was certainly true-blue, whatever other endow 
ments he may have possessed or wanted, coming within the 
"genuine old English" classification, which has never been 
exactly ascertained, took his lobster-eyes and his apoplexy 
to the club, and choked there all day. 

Cleopatra, at one time fretful, at another self-complacent, 
sometimes awake, sometimes asleep, and at all times juvenile, 
reached Brighton the same night, fell to pieces as usual, and 
was put away in bed ; where a gloomy fancy might have 
pictured a more potent skeleton than the maid, who should 
have been one, watching at the rose-coloured curtains, which 
were carried down to shed their bloom upon her. 

It was settled in high council of medical authority that 
she should take a carnage airing every day, and that it was 
important she should get out every day, and walk if she 
could. Edith was ready to attend her always ready to 
attend her, with the same mechanical attention and im- 
moveable beauty and they drove out alone ; for Edith had 
an uneasiness in the presence of Florence, now that her 
mother was worse, and told Florence, with a kiss, that she 
would rather they two went alone. 

Mrs. Skewton, on one particular day, was in the irresolute, 
exacting, jealous temper that had developed itself on her 



168 DOMBEY AND SON. 

recovery from her first attack. After sitting silent in the 
carnage watching Edith for some time, she took her hand 
and kissed it passionately. The hand was neither given nor 
withdrawn, but simply yielded to her raising of it, and being 
released, dropped down again, almost as if it were insen 
sible. At this she began to whimper and moan, and say 
what a mother she had been, and how she was forgotten ! 
This she continued to do at capricious intervals, even when 
they had alighted : when she herself was halting along with 
the joint support of Withers and a stick, and Edith was 
walking by her side, and the carriage slowly following at a 
little distance. 

It was a bleak, lowering, windy day, and they were out 
upon the Downs with nothing but a bare sweep of land 
between them and the sky. The mother, with a querulous 
satisfaction in the monotony of her complaint, was still 
repeating it in a low voice from time to time, and the proud 
form of her daughter moved beside her slowly, when there 
came advancing over a dark ridge before them, two other 
figures, which in the distance, were so like an exaggerated 
imitation of their own, that Edith stopped. 

Almost as she stopped, the two figures stopped; and that 
one which to Edith's thinking was like a distorted shadow of 
her mother, spoke to the other, earnestly, and with a point 
ing hand towards them. That one seemed inclined to turn 
back, but the other, in which Edith recognised enough that 
was like herself to strike her with an unusual feeling, not 
quite free from fear, came on; and then they came on 
together. 

The greater part of this observation, she made while walk 
ing towards them, for her stoppage had been momentary. 
Nearer observation showed her that they were poorly dressed, 
as wanderers about the country; that the younger woman 
carried knitted work or some such goods for sale; and that 
the old one toiled on empty-handed. 

And yet, however far removed she was in dress, in dignity, 



HANDSOME AND UNDUTIFUL. 169 

in beauty, Edith could not but compare the younger woman 
with herself, still. It may have been that she saw upon her 
face some traces which she knew were lingering in her own 
soul, if not yet written on that index; but, as the woman 
came on, returning her gaze, fixing her shining eyes upon 
her, undoubtedly presenting something of her own air and 
stature, and appearing to reciprocate her own thoughts, she 
felt a chill creep over her, as if the day were darkening, and 
the wind were colder. 

They had now come up. The old woman holding out her 
hand importunately, stopped to beg of Mrs. Skewton. The 
younger one stopped too. and she and Edith looked in one 
another's eyes. 

" What is it that you have to sell ? " said Edith. 

"Only this," returned the woman, holding out her wares, 
without looking at them. " I sold myself long ago." 

"My Lady, don't believe her," croaked the old woman to 
Mrs. Skewton; "don't believe what she says. She loves to 
talk like that. She's my handsome and undutiful daughter. 
She gives me nothing but reproaches, my Lady, for all I 
have done for her. Look at her now, my Lady, how she 
turns upon her poor old mother with her looks." 

As Mrs. Skewton drew her purse out with a trembling 
hand, and eagerly fumbled for some money, which the other 
old woman greedily watched for their heads all but touch 
ing, in their hurry and decrepitude Edith interposed : 

" I have seen you," addressing the old woman, " before." 

" Yes, my Lady," with a curtsey. " Down in Warwickshire. 
The morning among the trees. W T hen you wouldn't give 
me nothing. But the gentleman, lie give me something! 
Oh, bless him, bless him ! " mumbled the old woman, holding 
up her skinny hand, and grinning frightfully at her daughter. 

" It's of no use attempting to stay me, Edith ! " said Mrs. 
Skewton, angrily anticipating an objection from her. "You 
know nothing about it. I won't be dissuaded. I am sure 
this is an excellent woman, and a good mother." 



170 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Yes, my Lady, yes," chattered the old woman, holding 
out her avaricious hand. "Thankee, my Lady. Lord bless 
you, my Lady. Sixpence more, my pretty Lady, as a good 
mother yourself." 

"And treated undutifully enough, too, my good old 
creature, sometimes, I assure you," said Mrs. Skewton, 
whimpering. " There ! Shake hands with me. You're a 
very good old creature full of what's-his-name and all that. 
You're all affection and et cetera, an't you ? " 

" Oh, yes, my Lady ! " 

" Yes, I'm sure you are ; and so's that gentlemanly creature 
Grangeby. I must really shake hands with you again. And 
now you can go, you know ; and I hope," addressing the 
daughter, "that you'll show more gratitude, and natural 
what's-its-name, and all the rest of it but I never did 
remember names for there never was a better mother than 
the good old creature's been to you. Come, Edith ! " 

As the ruin of Cleopatra tottered oft* whimpering, and 
wiping its eyes with a gingerly remembrance of rouge in 
their neighbourhood, the old woman hobbled another way, 
mumbling and counting her money. Not one word more, nor 
one other gesture, had been exchanged between Edith and 
the younger woman, but neither had removed her eyes from 
the other for a moment. They had remained confronted 
until now, when Edith, as awakening from a dream, passed 
slowly on. 

" You're a handsome woman," muttered her shadow, looking 
after her; "but good looks won't save us. And you're a 
proud woman ; but pride won't save us. We had need to 
know each other when we meet again ! " 



CHAPTER XLI. 

NEW VOICES IN THE WAVES. 

ALL is going on as it was wont. The waves are hoarse 
with repetition of their mystery ; the dust lies, piled upon the 
shore ; the sea-birds soar and hover ; the winds and clouds 
go forth upon their trackless flight; the white arms beckon, 
in the moonlight, to the invisible country far away. 

With a tender melancholy pleasure, Florence finds herself 
again on the old ground so sadly trodden, yet so happily, 
and thinks of him in the quiet place, where he and she have 
many and many a time conversed together, with the water 
welling up about his couch. And now, as she sits pensive 
there, she hears in the wild low murmur of the sea, his little 
story told again, his very words repeated ; and finds that all 
her life and hopes, and griefs, since in the solitary house, 
and in the pageant it has changed to have a portion in the 
burden of the marvellous song. 

And gentle Mr. Toots, Avho wanders at a distance, look 
ing wistfully towards the figure that he doats upon, and has 
followed there, but cannot in his delicacy disturb at such 
a time, likewise hears the requiem of little Dombey on the 
waters, rising and falling in the lulls of their eternal madrigal 
in praise of Florence. Yes ! and he faintly understands, poor 
Mr. Toots, that they are saying something of a time when 
he was sensible of being brighter and not addle-brained ; and 
the tears rising in his eyes when he fears that he is dull 



172 DOMBEY AND SON. 

and stupid now, and good for little but to be laughed at, 
diminish his satisfaction in their soothing reminder that he 
is relieved from present responsibility to the Chicken, by the 
absence of that game head of poultry in the country, training 
(at Toots's cost) for his great mill with the Larkey Boy. 

But Mr. Toots takes courage, when they whisper a kind 
thought to him ; and by slow degrees and with many inde 
cisive stoppages on the way, approaches Florence. Stammer 
ing and blushing, Mr. Toots affects amazement when he comes 
near her, and says (having followed close on the carriage in 
which she travelled, every inch of the way from London, loving 
even to be choked by the dust of its wheels) that he never 
was so surprised in all his life. 

" And you've brought Diogenes, too, Miss Dombey ! " says 
Mr. Toots, thrilled through and through by the touch of the 
small hand so pleasantly and frankly given him. 

No doubt Diogenes is there, and no doubt Mr. Toots has 
reason to observe him, for he comes straightway at Mr. 
Toots's legs, and tumbles over himself in the desperation with 
which he makes at him, like a very dog of Montargis. But 
he is checked by his sweet mistress. 

"Down, Di, down. Don't you remember who first made 
us friends, Di ? For shame ! " 

Oh ! Well may Di lay his loving cheek against her hand, 
and run off, and run back, and run round her, barking, and 
run headlong at anybody coming by, to show his devotion. 
Mr. Toots would run headlong at anybody, too. A military 
gentleman goes past, and Mr. Toots would like nothing 
better than to run at him, full tilt. 

"Diogenes is quite in his native air, isn't he, Miss 
Dombey?" says Mr. Toots. 

Florence assents, with a grateful smile. 

"Miss Dombey," says Mr. Toots, "beg your pardon, but 
if you would like to walk to Blimber's, I I'm going there." 

Florence puts her arm in that of Mr. Toots without a 
word, and they walk away together, with Diogenes going on 



BLIMBEITS REVISITED. 173 

before. Mr. Toots's legs shake under him; and though he 
is splendidly dressed, he feels misfits, and sees wrinkles, in 
the masterpieces of Burgess and Co., and wishes he had put 
on that brightest pair of boots. 

Doctor Blimber's house, outside, has as scholastic and 
studious an air as ever : and up there is the window where 
she used to look for the pale face, and where the pale face 
brightened when it saw her, and the wasted little hand 
waved kisses as she passed. The door is opened by the same 
weak-eyed young man, whose imbecility of grin at sight of 
Mr. Toots is feebleness of character personified. They are 
shown into the Doctor's study, where blind Homer and 
Minerva give them audience as of yore, to the sober ticking 
of the great clock in the hall ; and where the globes stand 
still in their accustomed places, as if the world were 
stationary too, and nothing in it ever perished in obedience 
to the universal law, that, while it keeps it on the roll, calls 
everything to earth. 

And here is Doctor Blimber, with his learned legs ; and 
here is Mrs. Blimber, with her sky-blue cap; and here 
is Cornelia, with her sandy little row of curls, and her 
bright spectacles, still working like a sexton in the graves of 
languages. Here is the table upon which he sat forlorn and 
strange, the " new boy " of the school ; and hither comes 
the distant cooing of the old boys, at their old lives in the 
old room on the old principle ! 

"Toots,"" says Doctor Blimber, "I am very glad to see 
you, Toots. 11 

Mr. Toots chuckles in reply. 

"Also to see you, Toots, in such good company," says 
Doctor Blimber. 

Mr. Toots, with a scarlet visage, explains that he has met 
Miss Dombey by accident, and that Miss Dombey wishing, 
like himself, to see the old place, they have come together. 

" You will like,"" says Doctor Blimber, " to step among our 
young friends, Miss Dombey, no doubt. All fellow-students 



174 DOMBEY AND SON. 

of yours, Toots, once. I think we have no new disciples in 
our little portico, my dear," says Doctor Blimber to Cornelia, 
" since Mr. Toots left us. 1 ' 

"Except Bitherstone," returns Cornelia. 

"Aye, truly," says the Doctor. "Bitherstone is new to 
Mr. Toots. 1 ' 

New to Florence, too, almost; for, in the schoolroom, 
Bitherstone no longer Master Bitherstone of Mrs. Pipelines 
shows in collars and a neckcloth, and wears a watch. But 
Bitherstone, born beneath some Bengal star of ill-omen, is 
extremely inky; and his Lexicon has got so dropsical from 
constant reference, that it won't shut, and yawns as if it really 
could not bear to be so bothered. So does Bitherstone its 
master, forced at Doctor Blimber's highest pressure; but in 
the yawn of Bitherstone there is malice and snarl, and he 
has been heard to say that he wishes he could catch "old 
Blimber 1 ' in India. He'd precious soon find himself carried 
up the country by a few of his (Bitherstone's) Coolies, and 
handed over to the Thugs ; he can tell him that. 

Briggs is still grinding in the mill of knowledge ; and Tozer, 
too ; and Johnson, too ; and all the rest ; the older pupils 
being principally engaged in forgetting, with prodigious labour, 
everything they knew when they were younger. All are as 
polite and as pale as ever ; and among them, Mr. Feeder, B. A., 
with his bony hand and bristly head, is still hard at it : with 
his Herodotus stop on just at present, and his other barrels 
on a shelf behind him. 

A mighty sensation is created, even among these grave young 
gentlemen, by a visit from the emancipated Toots; who is 
regarded with a kind of awe, as one who has passed the 
Rubicon, and is pledged never to come back, and concerning 
the cut of whose clothes, and fashion of whose jewellery, 
whispers go about, behind hands ; the bilious Bitherstone, who 
is not of Mr. Toots's time, affecting to despise the latter to 
the smaller boys, and saying he knows better, and that he 
should like to see him coming that sort of thing in Bengal, 



THE VISITORS TAKE LEAVE. 175 

where his mother has got an emerald belonging to him that 
was taken out of the footstool of a Rajah. Come now ! 

Bewildering emotions are awakened also by the sight of 
Florence, with whom every young gentleman immediately falls 
in love, again : except, as aforesaid, the bilious Bitherstone, 
who declines to do so, out of contradiction. Black jealousies 
of Mr. Toots arise, and Briggs is of opinion that he an't so 
very old after all. But this disparaging insinuation is speedily 
made nought by Mr. Toots saying aloud to Mr. Feeder, B.A., 
" How are you, Feeder ? " and asking him to come and dine 
with him to-day at the Bedford ; in right of which feats he 
might set up as Old Parr, if he chose, unquestioned. 

There is much shaking of hands, and much bowing, and 
a great desire on the part of each young gentleman to take 
Toots down in Miss Dombey's good graces ; and then, Mr. 
Toots having bestowed a chuckle on his old desk, Florence 
and he withdraw with Mrs. Blimber and Cornelia; and 
Doctor Blimber is heard to observe behind them as he comes 
out last, and shuts the door, " Gentlemen, we will now resume 
our studies."" For that and little else is what the Doctor 
hears the sea say, or has heard it saying all his life. 

Florence then steals away and goes up stairs to the old 
bedroom with Mrs. Blimber and Cornelia ; Mr. Toots, who 
feels that neither he nor anybody else is wanted there, stands 
talking to the Doctor at the study-door, or rather hearing 
the Doctor talk to him, and wondering how he ever thought 
the study a great sanctuary, and the Doctor, with his round 
turned legs, like a clerical pianoforte, an awful man. Florence 
soon comes down and takes leave; Mr. Toots takes leave; 
and Diogenes, who has been worrying the weak-eyed young 
man pitilessly all the time, shoots out at the door, and barks 
a glad defiance down the cliff; while 'Melia, and another of 
the Doctor's female domestics, look out of an upper window, 
laughing at that there Toots, 1 and saying of Miss Dombey, 
"But really though, now ain't she like her brother, only 
prettier ? " 



176 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Mr. Toots, who saw when Florence came down that there 
were tears upon her face, is desperately anxious and uneasy, 
and at first fears that he did wrong in proposing the visit. 
But he is soon relieved by her saying she is very glad to have 
been there again, and by her talking quite cheerfully about 
it all, as they walked on by the sea. What with the voices 
there, and her sweet voice, when they come near Mr. Dombey's 
house, and Mr. Toots must leave her, he is so enslaved that 
he has not a scrap of free-will left ; when she gives him her 
hand at parting, he cannot let it go. 

"Miss Dombey, I beg your pardon, 11 says Mr. Toots, in 
a sad fluster, " but if you would allow me to to " 

The smiling and unconscious look of Florence brings him 
to a dead stop. 

" If you would allow me to if you would not consider it 
a liberty, Miss Dombey, if I was to without any encourage 
ment at all, if I was to hope, you know," says Mr. Toots. 

Florence looks at him inquiringly. 

" Miss Dombey," says Mr. Toots, who feels that he is in for 
it now, " I really am in that state of adoration of you that I 
don't know what to do with myself. I am the most deplorable 
wretch. If it wasn't at the corner of the Square at present, 
I should go down on my knees, and beg and entreat of you, 
without any encouragement at all, just to let me hope that I 
may may think it possible that you " 

" Oh, if you please, don't ! " cries Florence, for the moment 
quite alarmed and distressed. "Oh, pray don't, Mr. Toots. 
Stop, if you please. Don't say any more. As a kindness and 
a favour to me, don't." 

Mr. Toots is dreadfully abashed, and his mouth opens. 

" You have been so good to me," says Florence, " I am so 
grateful to you, I have such reason to like you for being a 
kind friend to me, and I do like you so much ; " and here the 
ingenuous face smiles upon him with the pleasantest look of 
honesty in the world ; " that I am sure you are only going 
to say good-bye ! " 



A TENDER SUBJECT. 177 

"Certainly, Miss Dombey," says Mr. Toots, "I I that's 
exactly what I mean. It's of no consequence. 11 

" Good-bye ! w cries Florence. 

" Good-bye, Miss Dombey ! " stammers Mr. Toots. " I hope 
you won't think anything about it. It's it's of no conse 
quence, thank you. It's not of the least consequence in the 
world." 

Poor Mr. Toots goes home to his Hotel in a state of 
desperation, locks himself into his bedroom, flings himself 
upon his bed, and lies there for a long time ; as if it were of 
the greatest consequence, nevertheless. But Mr. Feeder, B.A., 
is coming to dinner, which happens well for Mr. Toots, or 
there is no knowing Avhen he might get up again. Mr. 
Toots is obliged to get up to receive him, and to give him 
hospitable entertainment. 

And the generous influence of that social virtue, hospitality 
(to make no mention of wine and good cheer), opens Mr. 
Toots's heart, and warms him to conversation. He does not 
tell Mr. Feeder, B.A., what passed at the corner of the Square ; 
but when Mr. Feeder asks him "When it is to come off?" 
Mr. Toots replies, "that there are certain subjects" which 
brings Mr. Feeder down a peg or two immediately. Mr. Toots 
adds, that he don't know what right Blimber had to notice 
his being in Miss Dombey 's company, and that if he thought 
he meant impudence by it, he'd have him out, Doctor or no 
Doctor ; but he supposes it's only his ignorance. Mr. Feeder 
says he has no doubt of it. 

Mr. Feeder, however, as an intimate friend, is not excluded 
from the subject. Mr. Toots merely requires that it should 
be mentioned mysteriously, and with feeling. After a few 
glasses of wine, he gives Miss Dombey's health, observing, 
"Feeder, you have no idea of the sentiments with which I 
propose that toast." Mr. Feeder replies, " Oh, yes, I have, my 
dear Toots ; and greatly they redound to your honour, old 
boy." Mr. Feeder is then agitated by friendship, and shakes 
hands; and says, if ever Toots wants a brother, he knows 

VOL. II. N 



178 DOMBEY AND SON. 

where to find him, either by post or parcel. Mr. Feeder like 
wise says, that if he may advise, he would recommend Mr. 
Toots to learn the guitar, or, at least the flute ; for women 
like music, when you are paying your addresses to 'em, and 
he has found the advantage of it himself. 

This brings Mr. Feeder, B.A., to the confession that he has 
his eye upon Cornelia Blimber. He informs Mr. Toots that 
he don't object to spectacles, and that if the Doctor were to 
do the handsome thing and give up the business, why, there 
they are provided for. He says it's his opinion that when 
a man has made a handsome sum by his business, he is bound 
to give it up ; and that Cornelia would be an assistance in it 
which any man might be proud of. Mr. Toots replies by 
launching wildly out into Miss Dombey's praises, and by 
insinuations that sometimes he thinks he should like to blow 
his brains out. Mr. Feeder strongly urges that it would be a 
rash attempt, and shows him, as a reconcilement to existence, 
Cornelia's portrait, spectacles and all. 

Thus these quiet spirits pass the evening ; and when it has 
yielded place to night, Mr. Toots walks home with Mr. Feeder, 
and parts with him at Doctor Blimber's door. But Mr. Feeder 
only goes up the steps, and when Mr. Toots is gone, comes 
down again, to stroll upon the beach alone, and think about 
his prospects. Mr. Feeder plainly hears the waves informing 
him, as he loiters along, that Doctor Blimber will give up the 
business ; and he feels a soft romantic pleasure in looking at 
the outside of the house, and thinking that the Doctor will 
first paint it, and put it into thorough repair. 

Mr. Toots is likewise roaming up and down, outside the 
casket that contains his jewel ; and in a deplorable condition 
of mind, and not unsuspected by the police, gazes at a 
window where he sees a light, and which he has no doubt 
is Florence's. But it is not, for that is Mrs. Skewton's 
room; and while Florence, sleeping in another chamber, 
dreams lovingly, in the midst of the old scenes, and their 
old associations live again, the figure which in grim reality 



A RESTLESS SUFFERER. 179 

is substituted for the patient boy's on the same theatre, once 
more to connect it but how differently ! with decay and 
death, is stretched there, wakeful and complaining. Ugly 
and haggard it lies upon its bed of unrest; and by it, in 
the terror of her unimpassioned loveliness for it has terror 
in the sufferer's failing eyes sits Edith. What do the waves 
say, in the stillness of the night, to them ! 

" Edith, what is that stone arm raised to strike me ? Don't 
you see it?" 

"There is nothing, mother, but your fancy." 

" But my fancy ! Everything is my fancy. Look ! Is it 
possible that you don't see it!" 

" Indeed, mother, there is nothing. Should I sit unmoved, 
if there were any such thing there ? " 

"Unmoved?" looking wildly at her "it's gone now and 
why are you so unmoved ? That is not my fancy, Edith. It 
turns me cold to see you sitting at my side." 

"I am sorry, mother." 

" Sorry ! You seem always sorry. But it is not for me ! " 

With that, she cries; and tossing her restless head from 
side to side upon her pillow, runs on about neglect, and the 
mother she has been, and the mother the good old creature 
was, whom they met, and the cold return the daughters of 
such mothers make. In the midst of her incoherence, she 
stops, looks at her daughter, cries out that her wits are going, 
and hides her face upon the bed. 

Edith, in compassion, bends over her and speaks to her. 
The sick old Avoman clutches her round the neck, and says, 
with a look of horror, 

" Edith ! we are going home soon ; going back. You mean 
that I shall go home again?" 

" Yes, mother, yes." 

" And what he said what's-his-name, I never could remem 
ber names Major that dreadful word, when we came away 
it's not true ? Edith ! " with a shriek and a stare, " it's not 
that that is the matter with me." 



180 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Night after night, the light burns in the window, and the 
figure lies upon the bed, and Edith sits beside it, and the 
restless waves are calling to them both the whole night long. 
Night after night, the waves are hoarse with repetition of their 
mystery ; the dust lies piled upon the shore ; the sea-birds soar 
and hover ; the winds and clouds are on their trackless flight ; 
the white arms beckon, in the moonlight, to the invisible 
country far away. 

And still the sick old woman looks into the corner, where 
the stone arm part of a figure of some tomb, she says is 
raised to strike her. At last it falls ; and then a dumb old 
woman lies upon the bed, and she is crooked and shrunk up, 
and half of her is dead. 

Such is the figure, painted and patched for the sun to mock, 
that is drawn slowly through the crowd from day to day; 
looking, as it goes, for the good old creature who was such a 
mother, and making mouths as it peers among the crowd in 
vain. Such is the figure that is often wheeled down to the 
margin of the sea, and stationed there ; but on which no wind 
can blow freshness, and for which the murmur of the ocean 
has no soothing word. She lies and listens to it by the hour ; 
but its speech is dark and gloomy to her, and a dread is on 
her face, and when her eyes wander over the expanse, they see 
but a broad stretch of desolation between earth and heaven. 

Florence she seldom sees, and when she does, is angry with 
and mows at. Edith is beside her always, and keeps Florence 
away; and Florence, in her bed at night, trembles at the 
thought of death in such a shape, and often wakes and listens, 
thinking it has come. No one attends on her but Edith. It 
is better that few eyes should see her; and her daughter 
watches alone by the bedside. 

A shadow even on that shadowed face, a sharpening even 
of the sharpened features, and a thickening of the veil before 
the eyes into a pall that shuts out the dim world, is come. 
Her wandering hands upon the coverlet join feebly palm to 
palm, and move towards her daughter; and a voice not like 



CLEOPATRA'S OBSEQUIES. 181 

hers, not like any voice that speaks our mortal language 
says, " For I nursed you ! " 

Edith, without a tear, kneels down to bring her voice closer 
to the sinking head, and answers : 

"Mother, can you hear me?" 

Staring wide, she tries to nod in answer. 

" Can you recollect the night before I married ? " 

The head is motionless, but it expresses somehow that she 
does. 

" I told you then that I forgave your part in it, and prayed 
God to forgive my own. I told you that the past was at an 
end between us. I say so now, again. Kiss me, mother." 

Edith touches the white lips, and for a moment all is still. 
A moment afterwards, her mother, with her girlish laugh, and 
the skeleton of the Cleopatra manner, rises in her bed. 

Draw the rose-coloured curtains. There is something else 
upon its flight besides the wind and clouds. Draw the rose- 
coloured curtains close ! 

Intelligence of the event is sent to Mr. Dombey in town, 
who waits upon Cousin Feenix (not yet able to make up his 
mind for Baden-Baden), who has just received it too. A good- 
natured creature like Cousin Feenix is the very man for a 
marriage or a funeral, and his position in the family renders 
it right that he should be consulted. 

" Dombey," said Cousin Feenix, " upon my soul, I am very 
much shocked to see you on such a melancholy occasion. My 
poor aunt ! She was a devilish lively woman." 

Mr. Dombey replies, " Very much so." 

"And made up," says Cousin Feenix, "really young, you 
know, considering. I am sure, on the day of your marriage, 
I thought she was good for another twenty years. In point 
of fact, I said so to a man at Brooks's little Billy Joper 
you know him, no doubt man with a glass in his eye?" 

Mr. Dombey bows a negative. "In reference to the obse 
quies," he hints, "whether there is any suggestion " 



182 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Well, upon my life," says Cousin Feenix, stroking his chin, 
which he has just enough of hand below his wristbands to 
do ; "I really don't know. There's a Mausoleum down at my 
place, in the park, but I'm afraid it's in bad repair, and, in 
point of fact, in a devil of a state. But for being a little 
out at elbows, I should have had it put to rights ; but I 
believe the people come and make pic-nic parties there inside 
the iron railings." 

Mr. Dombey is clear that this won't do. 

"There's an uncommon good church in the village," says 
Cousin Feenix, thoughtfully ; " pure specimen of the Anglo- 
Norman style, and admirably well sketched too by Lady Jane 
Finchbury woman with tight stays but they've spoilt it with 
whitewash, I understand, and it's a long journey." 

" Perhaps Brighton itself," Mr. Dombey suggests. 

"Upon my honour, Dombey, I don't think we could do 
better, " says Cousin Feenix. " It's on the spot, you see, and 
a very cheerful place." 

" And when," hints Mr. Dombey, " would it be convenient ? " 

" I shall make a point," says Cousin Feenix, " of pledging 
myself for any day you think best. I shall have great pleasure 
(melancholy pleasure, of course) in following my poor aunt 

to the confines of the in point of fact, to the grave," 

says Cousin Feenix, failing in the other turn of speech. 

" Would Monday do for leaving town ? " says Mr. Dombey. 

"Monday would suit me to perfection," replies Cousin 
Feenix. Therefore Mr. Dombey arranges to take Cousin 
Feenix down on that day, and presently takes his leave, 
attended to the stairs by Cousin Feenix, who says, at parting, 
" I'm really excessively sorry, Dombey, that you should have 
so much trouble about it ; " to which Mr. Dombey answers, 
"Not at all." 

At the appointed time, Cousin Feenix and Mr. Dombey 
meet, and go down to Brighton, and representing, in their 
two selves, all the other mourners for the deceased lady's loss, 
attend her remains to their place of rest. Cousin Feenix, 



TRANSIENT EMOTION. 183 

sitting in the mourning-coach, recognises innumerable ac 
quaintances on the road, but takes no other notice of them, 
in decorum, than checking them off aloud, as they go by, for 
Mr. Dombey's information, as " Tom Johnson. Man with 
cork leg from White's. What, are you here, Tommy ? Foley 
on a blood mare. The Smalder girls " and so forth. At the 
ceremony Cousin Feenix is depressed, observing, that these 
are the occasions to make a man think, in point of fact, that 
he is getting shaky ; and his eyes are really moistened, when 
it is over. But he soon recovers ; and so do the rest of Mrs. 
Skewton's relatives and friends, of whom the Major continually 
tells the club that she never did wrap up enough; while the 
young lady with the back, who has so much trouble with her 
eyelids, says, with a little scream, that she must have been 
enormously old, and that she died of all kinds of horrors, and 
you mustn't mention it. 

So Edith's mother lies unmentioned of her dear friends, who 
are deaf to the waves that are hoarse with repetition of their 
mystery, and blind to the dust that is piled upon the shore, 
and to the white arms that are beckoning, in the moonlight, 
to the invisible country far away. But all goes on, as it was 
wont, upon the margin of the unknown sea ; and Edith stand 
ing there alone, and listening to its waves, has dank weed 
cast up at her feet, to strew her path in life withal. 



CHAPTER XLII. 

CONFIDENTIAL AND ACCIDENTAL. 

ATTIRED no more in Captain Cuttle's sable slops and sou'- wester 
hat, but dressed in a substantial suit of brown livery, which, 
while it affected to be a very sober and demure livery indeed, 
was really as self-satisfied and confident a one as tailor need 
desire to make, Rob the Grinder, thus transformed as to his 
outer man, and all regardless within of the Captain and the 
Midshipman, except when he devoted a few minutes of his 
leisure time to crowing over those inseparable worthies, and 
recalling, with much applauding music from that brazen 
instrument, his conscience, the triumphant manner in which 
he had disembarrassed himself of their company, now served 
his patron, Mr. Carker. Inmate of Mr. Carkers house, and 
serving about his person, Rob kept his round eyes on the white 
teeth with fear and trembling, and felt that he had need to 
open them wider than ever. 

He could not have quaked more, through his whole being, 
before the teeth, though he had come into the service of 
some powerful enchanter, and they had been his strongest 
spell. The boy had a sense of power and authority in this 
patron of his that engrossed his whole attention and exacted 
his most implicit submission and obedience. He hardly con 
sidered himself safe in thinking about him when he was absent, 
lest he should feel himself immediately taken by the throat 
again, as on the morning when he first became bound to him, 



ROB THE GRINDER UNDER THE HARROW. 185 

and should see every one of the teeth finding him out, and 
taxing him with every fancy of his mind. Face to face with 
him, Rob had no more doubt that Mr. Carker read his secret 
thoughts, or that he could read them by the least exertion of 
his will if he were so inclined, than he had that Mr. Carker 
saw him when he looked at him. The ascendancy was so com 
plete, and held him in such enthralment, that, hardly daring 
to think at all, but with his mind filled with a constantly 
dilating impression of his patron's irresistible command over 
him, and power of doing anything with him, he would stand 
watching his pleasure, and trying to anticipate his orders, 
in a state of mental suspension, as to all other things. 

Rob had not informed himself perhaps in his then state of 
mind it would have been an act of no common temerity to 
inquire whether he yielded so completely to this influence 
in any part, because he had floating suspicions of his patron's 
being a master of certain treacherous arts in which he had 
himself been a poor scholar at the Grinders' 1 School. But 
certainly Rob admired him, as well as feared him. Mr. Carker, 
perhaps, was better acquainted with the sources of his power, 
which lost nothing by his management of it. 

On the very night when he left the Captain's service, Rob, 
after disposing of his pigeons, and even making a bad bargain 
in his hurry, had gone straight down to Mr. Carker's house, 
and hotly presented himself before his new master with a 
glowing face that seemed to expect commendation. 

" What, scapegrace ! " said Mr. Carker, glancing at his bundle. 
" Have you left your situation and come to me ? " 

" Oh if you please, Sir," faltered Rob, " you said, you know, 
when I come here last " 

" / said," returned Mr. Carker, " what did I say ? " 

" If you please, Sir, you didn't say nothing at all, Sir," 11 
returned Rob, warned by the manner of this inquiry, and 
very much disconcerted. 

His patron looked at him with a wide display of gums, and 
shaking his forefinger, observed: 



186 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" You'll come to an evil end, my vagabond friend, I foresee. 
There's ruin in store for you."" 

" Oh if you please, don't, Sir ! " cried Rob, with his legs 
trembling under him. " I'm sure, Sir, I only want to work 
for you, Sir, and to wait upon you, Sir, and to do faithful 
whatever I'm bid, Sir." 

"You had better do faithfully whatever you are bid," 
returned his patron, " if you have anything to do with me." 

" Yes, I know that, Sir," pleaded the submissive Rob ; " I'm 
sure of that, Sir. If you'll only be so good as try me, Sir ! 
And if ever you find me out, Sir, doing anything against your 
wishes, I give you leave to kill me." 

"You dog!" said Mr. Carker, leaning back in his chair, 
and smiling at him serenely. "That's nothing to what I'd 
do to you, if you tried to deceive me." 

"Yes, Sir," replied the abject Grinder, "I'm sure you would 
be down upon me dreadful, Sir. I wouldn't attempt for to 
go and do it, Sir, not if I was bribed with golden guineas." 

Thoroughly checked in his expectations of commendation, 
the crestfallen Grinder stood looking at his patron, and vainly 
endeavouring not to look at him, with the uneasiness which 
a cur will often manifest in a similar situation. 

"So you have left your old service, and come here to ask 
me to take you into mine, eh?" said Mr. Carker. 

"Yes, if you please, Sir," returned Rob, who, in doing so, 
had acted on his patron's own instructions, but dared not 
justify himself by the least insinuation to that effect. 

"Well !" said Mr. Carker. "You know me, boy?" 

" Please, Sir, yes, Sir," returned Rob, fumbling with his hat, 
and still fixed by Mr. Carker's eye, and fruitlessly endeavour 
ing to unfix himself. 

Mr. Carker nodded. " Take care, then ! " 

Rob expressed in a number of short bows his lively under 
standing of this caution, and was bowing himself back to the 
door, greatly relieved by the prospect of getting on the outside 
of it, when his patron stopped him. 



MR. CAREER'S DISTINGUISHED GUEST. 187 

" Halloa ! " he cried, calling him roughly back. " You have 
been shut that door." 

Rob obeyed as if his life had depended on his alacrity. 

"You have been used to eaves-dropping. Do you know 
what that means?" 

"Listening, Sir?" Rob hazarded, after some embarrassed 
reflection. 

His patron nodded. " And watching, and so forth." 

"I Avouldn't do such a thing here, Sir," answered Rob; 
"upon my word and honour, I wouldn't, Sir, I wish I may 
die if I would, Sir, for anything that could be promised to 
me. I should consider it is as much as all the world was 
worth, to offer to do such a thing, unless I was ordered, 
Sir.' 1 

" You had better not. You have been used, too, to babbling 
and tattling," said his patron with perfect coolness. " Beware 
of that here, or you're a lost rascal," and he smiled again, 
and again cautioned him with his forefinger. 

The Grinder's breath came short and thick with consterna 
tion. He tried to protest the purity of his intentions, but could 
only stare at the smiling gentleman in a stupor of submission, 
with which the smiling gentleman seemed well enough satisfied, 
for he ordered him down stairs, after observing him for some 
moments in silence, and gave him to understand that he was 
retained in his employment. 

This was the manner of Rob the Grinder's engagement by 
Mr. Carker, and his awe-stricken devotion to that gentleman 
had strengthened and increased, if possible, with every minute 
of his service. 

It was a service of some months' duration, when early one 
morning, Rob opened the garden gate to Mr. Dombey, who 
was come to breakfast with his master, by appointment. At 
the same moment his master himself came, hurrying forth to 
receive the distinguished guest, and give him welcome with all 
his teeth. 

"I never thought," said Carker, when he had assisted him 



188 DOMBEY AND SON. 

to alight from his horse, " to see you here, Tm sure. This is 
an extraordinary day in my calendar. No occasion is very 
special to a man like you, who may do anything ; but to a 
man like me, the case is widely different." 

" You have a tasteful place here, Carker, 1 ' said Mr. Dombey, 
condescending to stop upon the lawn, to look about him. 

" You can afford to say so,"" returned Carker. " Thank you." 

"Indeed," said Mr. Dombey, in his lofty patronage, "any 
one might say so. As far as it goes, it is a very commodious 
and well-arranged place quite elegant. 1 ' 

"As far as it goes, truly, 1 ' returned Carker, with an air of 
disparagement. " It wants that qualification. Well ! we have 
said enough about it ; and though you can afford to praise 
it, I thank you none the less. Will you walk in ? " 

Mr. Dombey, entering the house, noticed, as he had reason to 
do, the complete arrangement of the rooms, and the numerous 
contrivances for comfort and effect that abounded there. Mr. 
Carker, in his ostentation of humility, received this notice 
with a deferential smile, and said he understood its delicate 
meaning, and appreciated it, but in truth the cottage was good 
enough for one in his position better, perhaps, than such a 
man should occupy, poor as it was. 

" But perhaps to you, who are so far removed, it really does 
look better than it is, 1 ' he said, with his false mouth distended 
to its fullest stretch. "Just as monarchs imagine attractions 
in the lives of beggars." 

He directed a sharp glance and a sharp smile at Mr. Dombey 
as he spoke, and a sharper glance, and a sharper smile yet, 
when Mr. Dombey, drawing himself up before the fire, in the 
attitude so often copied by his second in command, looked 
round at the pictures on the walls. Cursorily as his cold eye 
wandered over them, Carker's keen glance accompanied his, 
and kept pace with his, marking exactly where it went, and 
what it saw. As it rested on one picture in particular, Carker 
hardly seemed to breathe, his sidelong scrutiny was so catlike 
and vigilant, but the eye of his great chief passed from that, 



A PARTICULAR PICTURE. 189 

as from the others, and appeared no more impressed by it 
than by the rest. 

Carker looked at it it was the picture that resembled 
Edith as if it were a living thing ; and with a wicked, silent 
lauo-h upon his face, that seemed in part addressed to it, though 
it was all derisive of the great man standing so unconscious 
beside him. Breakfast was soon set upon the table : and, 
inviting Mr. Dombey to a chair which had its back towards 
this picture, he took his own seat opposite to it as usual. 

Mr. Dombey was even graver than it was his custom to be, 
and quite silent. The parrot, swinging in the gilded hoop 
within her gaudy cage, attempted in vain to attract notice, 
for Carker was too observant of his visitor to heed her ; and 
the visitor, abstracted in meditation, looked fixedly, not to 
say sullenly, over his stift' neckcloth, without raising his eyes 
from the table-cloth. As to Rob, who was in attendance, all 
his faculties and energies were so locked up in observation of 
his master, that he scarcely ventured to give shelter to the 
thought that the visitor was the great gentleman before whom 
he had been carried as a certificate of the family health, in 
his childhood, and to whom he had been indebted for his 
leather smalls. 

" Allow me," said Carker suddenly, " to ask how Mrs. 
Dombey is?" 

He leaned forward obsequiously, as he made the inquiry, 
with his chin resting on his hand ; and at the same time his 
eyes went up to the picture, as if he said to it, "Now, see, 
how I will lead him on J " 

Mr. Dombey reddened as he answered : 
"Mrs. Dombey is quite well. You remind me, Carker, of 
some conversation that I wish to have with you." 

"Robin, you can leave us, 1 ' said his master, at whose mild 
tones Robin started and disappeared, with his eyes fixed on 
his patron to the last. "You don't remember that boy, of 
course ? " he added, when the immeshed Grinder was gone. 
<< No, r) said Mr. Dombey, with magnificent indifference. 



190 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Not likely that a man like you would. Hardly possible," 
murmured Carker. " But he is one of that family from whom 
you took a nurse. Perhaps you may remember having gene 
rously charged yourself with his education ? " 

*'Is it that boy?" said Mr. Dombey, with a frown. "He 
does little credit to his education, I believe." 11 

" Why, he is a young rip, I am afraid," returned Carker, 
with a shrug. " He bears that character. But the truth is, 
I took him into my service because, being able to get no 
other employment, he conceived (had been taught at home, 
I dare say) that he had some sort of claim upon you, and 
was constantly trying to dog your heels with his petition. 
And although my defined and recognised connexion with your 
affairs is merely of a business character, still I have that 
spontaneous interest in everything belonging to you, that " 

He stopped again, as if to discover whether he had led 
Mr. Dombey far enough yet. And again, with his chin rest 
ing on his hand, he leered at the picture. 

" Carker,' 1 said Mr. Dombey, " I am sensible that you do 
not limit your " 

" Service," suggested his smiling entertainer. 

" No ; I prefer to say your regard," observed Mr. Dombey ; 
very sensible, as he said so, that he was paying him a hand 
some and flattering compliment, " to our mere business relations. 
Your consideration for my feelings, hopes, and disappoint 
ments, in the little instance you have just now mentioned, is 
an example in point. I am obliged to you, Carker. 11 

Mr. Carker bent his head slowly, and very softly rubbed 
his hands, as if he were afraid by any action to disturb the 
current of Mr. Dombey' l s confidence. 

" Your allusion to it is opportune," said Mr. Dombey, after 
a little hesitation ; " for it prepares the way to what I was 
beginning to say to you, and reminds me that that involves 
no absolutely new relations between us, although it may 
involve more personal confidence on my part than I have 
hitherto " 



MRS. DOMBEY HAS SOMETHING TO LEARN. 191 

"Distinguished me with," suggested Carker, bending his 
head again : " I Avill not say to you how honoured I am ; for 
a man like you well knows how much honour he has in his 
power to bestow at pleasure." 

" Mrs. Dombey and myself,"" said Mr. Dombey, passing 
this compliment with august self-denial, " are not quite agreed 
upon some points. We do not appear to understand each 
other yet. Mrs. Dombey has something to learn." 

"Mrs. Dombey is distinguished by many rare attractions; 
and has been accustomed, no doubt, to receive much adula 
tion," said the smooth, sleek watcher of his slightest look and 
tone. "But where there is affection, duty, and respect, any 
little mistakes engendered by such causes are soon set right." 

Mr. Dombey's thoughts instinctively flew back to the face 
that had looked at him in his wife's dressing-room, when 
an imperious hand was 'stretched towards the door; and 
remembering the affection, duty, and respect, expressed in it, 
he felt the blood rush to his own face quite as plainly as the 
watchful eyes upon him saw it there. 

" Mi's. Dombey and myself," he went on to say, " had some 
discussion, before Mrs. Skewton's death, upon the causes of 
my dissatisfaction ; of which you will have formed a general 
understanding from having been a Avitness of what passed 
between Mrs. Dombey and myself on the evening when you 
were at our at my house." 

"When I so much regretted being present," said the 
smiling Carker. " Proud as a man in my position necessarily 
must be of your familiar notice though I give you no credit 
for it ; you may do anything you please without losing caste 
and honoured as I was by an early presentation to Mrs. 
Dombey, before she was made eminent by bearing your name, 
I almost regretted that night, I assure you, that I had been 
the object of such especial good fortune." 

That any man could, under any possible circumstances, 
regret the being distinguished by his condescension and 
patronage, was a moral phenomenon which Mr. Dombey could 



192 DOMBEY AND SON. 

not comprehend. He therefore responded, with a considerable 
accession of dignity. " Indeed ! And why, Carker ? " 

"I fear,"" returned the confidential agent, "that Mrs. 
Dombey, never very much disposed to regard me with favour 
able interest one in my position could not expect that, from 
a lady naturally proud, and whose pride becomes her so well 
may not easily forgive my innocent part in that conversa 
tion. Your displeasure is no light matter, you must remember ; 
and to be visited with it before a third party " 

" Carker, 11 said Mr. Dombey, arrogantly ; " I presume that 
/ am the first consideration ? " 

" Oh ! Can there be a doubt about it ? " replied the other, 
with the impatience of a man admitting a notorious and in 
controvertible fact. 

" Mrs. Dombey becomes a secondary consideration, when 
we are both in question, I imagine," said Mr. Dombey. " Is 
that so? 11 

" Is it so ? " returned Carker. " Do you know better than 
any one, that you have no need to ask ? " 

"Then I hope, Carker, 1 ' said Mr. Dombey, "that your 
regret in the acquisition of Mrs. Dombey 1 s displeasure, may 
be almost counterbalanced by your satisfaction in retaining 
my confidence and good opinion. 11 

" I have the misfortune, I find, 11 returned Carker, " to have 
incurred that displeasure. Mrs. Dombey has expressed it to 
you? 11 

" Mrs. Dombey has expressed various opinions," said Mr. 
Dombey, with majestic coldness and indifference, " in which I 
do not participate, and which I am not inclined to discuss, or 
to recall. I made Mrs. Dombey acquainted, some time since, 
as I have already told you, with certain points of domestic 
deference and submission on which I felt it necessary to insist. 
I failed to convince Mrs. Dombey of the expediency of her 
immediately altering her conduct in those respects, with a 
view to her own peace and welfare, and my dignity ; and I 
informed Mrs. Dombey that if I should find it necessary to 



MR. DOMBEY'S WILL IS LAW. 193 

object or remonstrate again, I should express my opinion to 
her through yourself, my confidential agent." 

Blended with the look that Carker bent upon him, was a 
devilish look at the picture over his head, that struck upon 
it like a flash of lightning. 

"Now, Carker, 11 said Mr. Dombey, "I do not hesitate to 
say to you that I will carry my point. I am not to be 
trifled with. Mrs. Dombey must understand that my will is 
law, and that I cannot allow of one exception to the whole 
rule of my life. You will have the goodness to undertake 
this charge, which, coming from me, is not unacceptable to 
you, I hope, whatever regret you may politely profess for 
which I am obliged to you on behalf of Mrs. Dombey ; and 
you will have the goodness, I am persuaded, to discharge it 
as exactly as any other commission. 11 

"You know, 11 said Mr. Carker, "that you have only to 
command me. 11 

"I know, 11 said Mr. Dombey, with a majestic indication of 
assent, "that I have only to command you. It is necessary 
that I should proceed in this. Mrs. Dombey is a lady un 
doubtedly highly qualified, in many respects, to " 

" To do credit even to your choice, 11 suggested Carker, with 
a fawning show of teeth. 

"Yes; if you please to adopt that form of words, 11 said 
Mr. Dombey, in his tone of state ; " and at present I do not 
conceive that Mrs. Dombey does that credit to it, to which 
it is entitled. There is a principle of opposition in Mrs. 
Dombey that must be eradicated ; that must be overcome : 
Mrs. Dombey does not appear to understand, 11 said Mr. 
Dombey, forcibly, "that the idea of opposition to Me is 
monstrous and absurd. 11 

"We, in the City, know you better, 11 replied Carker, with 
a smile from ear to ear. 

"You know me better, 11 said Mr. Dombey. "I hope 
so. Though, indeed, I am bound to do Mrs. Dombey the 
justice of saying, however inconsistent it may seem with 

VOL. II. O 



194 DOMBEY AND SON. 

her subsequent conduct (which remains unchanged), that on 
my expressing my disapprobation and determination to her, 
with some severity, on the occasion to which I have referred, 
my admonition appeared to produce a very powerful effect."" 
Mr. Dombey delivered himself of those words with most 
portentous stateliness. "I wish you to have the goodness, 
then, to inform Mrs. Dombey, Carker, from me, that I must 
recall our former conversation to her remembrance, in some 
surprise that it has not yet had its effect. That I must insist 
upon her regulating her conduct by the injunctions laid upon 
her in that conversation. That I am not satisfied with her 
conduct. That I am greatly dissatisfied with it. And that 
I shall be under the very disagreeable necessity of making 
you the bearer of yet more unwelcome and explicit com 
munications, if she has not the good sense and the proper 
feeling to adapt herself to my wishes, as the first Mrs. 
Dombey did, and, I believe I may add, as any other lady in 
her place would.' 1 

"The first Mrs. Dombey lived very happily,"" said Carker. 

"The first Mrs. Dombey had great good sense," said Mr. 
Dombey, in a gentlemanly toleration of the dead, " and very 
correct feeling."" 

" Is Miss Dombey like her mother, do you think ? "" said 
Carker. 

Swiftly and darkly, Mr. Dombey's face changed. His con 
fidential agent eyed it keenly. 

"I have approached a painful subject,"" he said, in a soft 
regretful tone of voice, irreconcileable with his eager eye. 
" Pray forgive me. I forget these chains of association in 
the interest I have. Pray forgive me."" 

But for all he said, his eager eye scanned Mr. Dombey's 
downcast face none the less closely ; and then it shot a strange 
triumphant look at the picture, as appealing to it to bear 
witness how he led him on again, and what was coming. 

" Carker," said Mr. Dombey, looking here and there upon 
the table, and speaking in a somewhat altered and more 



A MESSAGE TO MRS. DOMBEY. 195 

hurried voice, and with a paler lip, " there is no occasion for 
apology. You mistake. The association is with the matter 
in hand, and not with any recollection, as you suppose. I 
do not approve of Mrs. Dombey's behaviour towards my 
daughter." 

" Pardon me," said Mr. Carker, " I don't quite understand." 
" Understand then," returned Mr. l^ombey, " that you may 
make that that you will make that, if you please matter 
of direct objection from me to Mrs. Dombey. You will 
please to tell her that her show of devotion for my daughter 
is disagreeable to me. It is likely to be noticed. It is likely 
to induce people to contrast Mrs. Dombey in her relation 
towards my daughter, with Mrs. Dombey in her relation 
towards myself. You will have the goodness to let Mrs. 
Dombey know, plainly, that I object to it ; and that I expect 
her to defer, immediately, to my objection. Mrs. Dombey 
may be in earnest, or she may be pursuing a whim, or she 
may be opposing me ; but I object to it in any case, and in 
every case. If Mrs. Dombey is in earnest, so much the less 
reluctant should she be to desist ; for she will not serve my 
daughter by any such display. If my wife has any superfluous 
gentleness and duty over and above her proper submission to 
me, she may bestow them where she pleases, perhaps; but 
I will have submission first! Carker," said Mr. Dombey, 
checking the unusual emotion with which he had spoken, and 
falling into a tone more like that in which he was accustomed 
to assert his greatness, "you will have the goodness not to 
omit or slur this point, but to consider it a very important 
part of your instructions." 

Mr. Carker bowed his head, and rising from the table, and 
standing thoughtfully before the fire, with his hand to his 
smooth chin, looked down at Mr. Dombey with the evil 
slyness of some monkish carving, half human and half brute ; 
or like a leering face on an old water-spout. Mr. Dombey, 
recovering his composure by degrees, or cooling his emotion 
in his sense of having taken a high position, sat gradually 



196 DOMBEY AND SON. 

stiffening again, and looking at the parrot as she swung to 
and fro, in her great wedding ring. 

" I beg your pardon," said Carker, after a silence, suddenly 
resuming his chair, and drawing it opposite to Mr. Dombey's, 
"but let me understand. Mrs. Dombey is aware of the 
probability of your making me the organ of your dis~ 
pleasure ? " 

" Yes," replied Mr. Dombey. " I have said so." 

"Yes," rejoined Carker, quickly; "but why?" 

"Why!" Mr. Dombey repeated, not without hesitation. 
" Because I told her." 

"Aye," replied Carker. "But why did you tell her? 
You see," he continued with a smile, and softly laying his 
velvet hand, as a cat might have laid its sheathed claws, on 
Mr. Dombey's arm ; " if I perfectly understand what is in 
your mind, I am so much more likely to be useful, and to 
have the happiness of being effectually employed. I think 
I do understand. I have not the honour of Mrs. Dombey' l s 
good opinion. In my position, I have no reason to expect 
it ; but I take the fact to be, that I have not got it ? " 

"Possibly not," said Mr. Dombey. 

"Consequently," pursued Carker, "your making these 
communications to Mrs. Dombey through me, is sure to be 
particularly unpalatable to that lady ? " 

"It appears to me," said Mr. Dombey, with haughty 
reserve, and yet with some embarrassment, "that Mrs. 
Dombey 's views upon the subject form no part of it as it 
presents itself to you and me, Carker. But it may be so." 

"And pardon me do I misconceive you," said Carker, 
" when I think you descry in this, a likely means of humbling 
Mrs. Dombey's pride I use the word as expressive of a 
quality which, kept within due bounds, adorns and graces 
a lady so distinguished for her beauty and accomplishments 
and, not to say of punishing her, but of reducing her to 
the submission you so naturally and justly require ? " 

"I am not accustomed, Carker, as you know," said Mr. 



NO ANSWER REQUIRED. 197 

Dombey, " to give such close reasons for any course of con 
duct I. think proper to adopt, but I will gainsay nothing of 
this. If you have any objection to found upon it, that is 
indeed another thing, and the mere statement that you have 
one will be sufficient. But I have not supposed, I confess, 
that any confidence I could intrust to you, would be likely 
to degrade you " 

" Oh ! / degraded ! " exclaimed Carker. " In your service ! " 

" or to place you," pursued Mr. Dombej, "in a false 
position." 

" / in a false position ! " exclaimed Carker. " I shall be 
proud delighted to execute your trust. I could have 
wished, I own, to have given the lady at whose feet I would 
lay my humble duty and devotion for is she not your wife ! 
no new cause of dislike ; but a wish from you is, of course, 
paramount to every other consideration on earth. Besides, 
when Mrs. Dombey is converted from these little errors of 
judgment, incidental, I would presume to say, to the novelty 
of her situation, I shall hope that she will perceive in the 
slight part I take, only a grain my removed and different 
sphere gives room for little more of the respect for you, 
and sacrifice of all considerations to you, of which it will be 
her pleasure and privilege to garner up a great store every 
day." 

Mr. Dombey seemed, at the moment, again to see her with 
her hand stretched out towards the door, and again to hear 
through the mild speech of his confidential agent an echo 
of the words, "Nothing can make us stranger to each other 
than we are henceforth ! " But he shook off the fancy, and 
did not shake in his resolution, and said, " Certainly, no 
doubt." 

"There is nothing more," quoth Carker, drawing his chair 
back to its old place for they had taken little breakfast as 
yet and pausing for an answer before he sat down. 

" Nothing," said Mr. Dombey, " but this. You will be good 
enough to observe, Carker, that no message to Mrs. Dombey 



198 DOMBEY AND SON. 

with which you are or may be charged, admits of reply. 
You will be good enough to bring me no reply. Mrs. 
Dombey is informed that it does not become me to temporise 
or treat upon any matter that is at issue between us, and 
that what I say is final." 

Mr. Carker signified his understanding of these credentials, 
and they fell to breakfast with what appetite they might. 
The Grinder also, in due time, reappeared, keeping his eyes 
upon his master without a moment's respite, and passing 
the time in a reverie of worshipful terror. Breakfast con 
cluded, Mr. Dombey's horse was ordered out again, and Mr. 
Carker mounting his own, they rode off for the City together. 

Mr. Carker was in capital spirits, and talked much. Mr. 
Dombey received his conversation with the sovereign air of 
a man who had a right to be talked to, and occasionally 
condescended to throw in a few words to carry on the con 
versation. So they rode on characteristically enough. But 
Mr. Dombey, in his dignity, rode with very long stirrups, 
and a very loose rein, and very rarely deigned to look down 
to see where his horse went. In consequence of which it 
happened that Mr. Dombey's horse, while going at a round 
trot, stumbled on some loose stones, threw him, rolled over 
him, and lashing out with his iron-shod feet, in his struggles 
to get up, kicked him. 

Mr. Carker, quick of eye, steady of hand, and a good 
horseman, was afoot, and had the struggling animal upon 
his legs and by the bridle, in a moment. Otherwise that 
morning's confidence would have been Mr. Dombey 's last. 
Yet even with the flush and hurry of this action red upon 
him, he bent over his prostrate chief with every tooth dis 
closed, and muttered as he stooped down, " I have given good 
cause of offence to Mrs. Dombey now, if she knew it ! " 

Mr. Dombey being insensible, and bleeding from the head 
and face, was carried by certain menders of the road, under 
Carker's direction, to the nearest public-house, which was not 
far off, and where he was soon attended by divers surgeons, 



AN UNLUCKY ACCIDENT. 199 

who arrived in quick succession from all parts, and who 
seemed to come by some mysterious instinct, as vultures are 
said to gather about a camel who dies in the desert. After 
being at some pains to restore him to consciousness, these 
gentlemen examined into the nature of his injuries. One 
surgeon who lived hard by was strong for a compound 
fracture of the leg, which was the landlord's opinion also; 
but two surgeons who lived at a distance, and were only in 
that neighbourhood by accident, combated this opinion so 
disinterestedly, that it was decided at last that the patient, 
though severely cut and bruised, had broken no bones but a 
lesser rib or so, and might be carefully taken home before 
night. His injuries being dressed and bandaged, which was 
a long operation, and he at length left to repose, Mr. Carker 
mounted his horse again, and rode away to carry the intelli 
gence home. 

Crafty and cruel as his face was at the best of times,, 
though it was a sufficiently fair face as to form and regularity 
of feature, it was at its worst when he set forth on this 
errand; animated by the craft and cruelty of thoughts 
within him, suggestions of remote possibility rather than of 
design or plot, that made him ride as if he hunted men 
and women. Drawing rein at length, and slackening in 
his speed, as he came into the more public roads, he checked 
his white-legged horse into picking his way along as usual, 
and hid himself beneath his sleek, hushed, crouched manner, 
and his ivory smile, as he best could. 

He rode direct to Mr. Dombey's house, alighted at the 
door, and begged to see Mrs. Dombey on an affair of im 
portance. The servant who showed him to Mr. Dombey's 
own room, soon returned to say that it was not Mrs. 
Dombey's hour for receiving visitors, and that he begged 
pardon for not having mentioned it before. 

Mr. Carker, who was quite prepared for a cold reception, 
wrote upon a card that he must take the liberty of pressing 
for an interview, and that he would not be so bold as to do 



200 . DOMBEY AND SON. 

so, for the second time (this he underlined), if he were not 
equally sure of the occasion being sufficient for his justifica 
tion. After a trifling delay, Mrs. Dombey's maid appeared, 
and conducted him to a morning room up stairs, where Edith 
and Florence were together. 

He had never thought Edith half so beautiful before. 
Much as he admired the graces of her face and form, and 
freshly as they dwelt within his sensual remembrance, he had 
never thought her half so beautiful. 

Her glance fell haughtily upon him in the doorway ; but 
he looked at Florence though only in the act of bending 
his head, as he came in with some irrepressible expression 
of the new power he held; and it was his triumph to see 
the glance droop and falter, and to see that Edith half rose 
up to receive him. 

He was very sorry, he was deeply grieved ; he couldn't say 
with what unwillingness he came to prepare her for the intelli 
gence of a very slight accident. He entreated Mrs. Dombey 
to compose herself. Upon his sacred word of honour, there 
was no cause of alarm. But Mr. Dombey 

Florence uttered a sudden cry. He did not look at her, 
but at Edith. Edith composed and reassured her. She 
uttered no cry of distress. No, no. 

Mr. Dombey had met with an accident in riding. His 
horse had slipped, and he had been thrown. 

Florence wildly exclaimed that he was badly hurt; that 
he was killed ! 

No. Upon his honour, Mr. Dombey, though stunned at 
first, was soon recovered, and though certainly hurt was in 
no kind of danger. If this were not the truth, he, the dis 
tressed intruder, never could have had the courage to present 
himself before Mrs. Dombey. It was the truth indeed, he 
solemnly assured her. 

All this he said as if he were answering Edith, and not 
Florence, and with his eyes and his smile fastened on Edith. 

He then went on to tell her where Mr. Dombey was lying, 



MR. DOMBEY BROUGHT HOME. 201 

and to request that a carnage might be placed at his disposal 
to bring him home. 

"Mama," faltered Florence in tears, "if I might venture 
to go!" 

Mr. Carker, having his eyes on Edith when he heard these 
words, gave her a secret look and slightly shook his head. 
He saw how she battled with herself before she answered him 
with her handsome eyes, but he wrested the answer from 
her he showed her that he would have it, or that he would 
speak and cut Florence to the heart and she gave it to him. 
As he had looked at the picture in the morning, so he looked 
at her afterwards, when she turned her eyes away. 

" I am directed to request," he said, " that the new house 
keeper Mrs. Pipchin, I think, is the name " 

Nothing escaped him. He saw in an instant, that she was 
another slight of Mr. Dombey's on his wife. 

" may be informed that Mr. Dombey wishes to have his 
bed prepared in his own apartments down stairs, as he 
prefers those rooms to any other. I shall return to Mr. 
Dombey almost immediately. That every possible attention 
has been paid to his comfort, and that he is the object of 
every possible solicitude, I need not assure you, Madam. 
Let me again say, there is no cause for the least alarm. 
Even you may be quite at ease, believe me." 

He bowed himself out, with his extremest show of deference 
and conciliation ; and having returned to Mr. Dombey's 
room, and there arranged for a carriage being sent after him 
to the City, mounted his horse again, and rode slowly thither. 
He was very thoughtful as he went along, and very thoughtful 
there, and very thoughtful in the carriage on his way back 
to the place where Mr. Dombey had been left. It was only 
when sitting by that gentleman's couch that he was quite 
himself again, and conscious of his teeth. 

About the time of twilight, Mr. Dombey, grievously 
afflicted with aches and pains, was helped into his carriage, 
and propped with cloaks and pillows on one side of it, 



202 DOMBEY AND SON. 

while his confidential agent bore him company upon the 
other. As he was not to be shaken, they moved at little 
more than a foot pace; and hence it was quite dark when 
he was brought home. Mrs. Pipchin, bitter and grim, and 
not oblivious of the Peruvian mines, as the establishment in 
general had good reason to know, received him at the door, 
and freshened the domestics with several little sprinklings of 
wordy vinegar, while they assisted in conveying him to his 
room. Mr. Carker remained in attendance until he was safe 
in bed, and then, as he declined to receive any female visitor, 
but the excellent Ogress who presided over his household, 
waited on Mrs. Dombey once more, with his report on her 
lord's condition. 

He again found Edith alone with Florence, and he again 
addressed the whole of his soothing speech to Edith, as if 
she were a prey to the liveliest and most affectionate anxieties. 
So earnest he was in his respectful sympathy, that on taking 
leave, he ventured with one more glance towards Florence 
at the moment to take her hand, and bending over it, to 
touch it with his lips. 

Edith did not withdraw the hand, nor did she strike his 
fair face with it, despite the flush upon her cheek, the bright 
light in her eyes, and the dilation of her whole form. But 
when she was alone in her own room, she struck it on the 
marble chimney-shelf, so that, at one blow, it was bruised, 
and bled ; and held it from her, near the shining fire, as if 
she could have thrust it in and burned it. 

Far into the night she sat alone, by the sinking blaze, 
in dark and threatening beauty, watching the murky shadows 
looming on the wall, as if her thoughts were tangible, and 
cast them there. Whatever shapes of outrage and affront, 
and black foreshadowings of things that might happen, 
flickered, indistinct and giant-like, before her, one resented 
figure marshalled them against her. And that figure was 
her husband. 



CHAPTER XLIII. 

THE WATCHES OF THE XIGHT. 

FLORENCE, iong since awakened from her dream, mournfully 
observed the estrangement between her father and Edith, 
and saw it widen more and more, and knew that there was 
greater bitterness between them every day. Each day's 
added knowledge deepened the shade upon her love and 
hope, roused up the old sorrow that had slumbered for a 
little time, and made it even heavier to bear than it had 
been before. 

It had been hard how hard may none but Florence ever 
know ! to have the natural affection of a true and earnest 
nature turned to agony; and slight, or stern repulse, sub 
stituted for the tenderest protection and the dearest care. 
It had been hard to feel in her deep heart what she had 
felt, and never know the happiness of one touch of response. 
But it was much more hard to be compelled to doubt either 
her father or Edith, so affectionate and dear to her, and to 
think of her love for each of them, by turns, with fear, 
distrust, and wonder. 

Yet Florence now began to do so ; and the doing of it was 
a task imposed upon her by the very purity of her soul, as 
one she could not fly from. She saw her father cold and 
obdurate to Edith, as to her; hard, inflexible, unyielding. 
Could it be, she asked herself with starting tears, that her 
own dear mother had been made unhappy by such treatment, 
and had pined away and died? Then she would think how 



204 DOMBEY AND SON. 

proud and stately Edith was to every one but her, with what 
disdain she treated him, how distantly she kept apart from 
him, and what she had said on the night when she came 
home ; and quickly it would come on Florence, almost as a 
crime, that she loved one who was set in opposition to her 
father, and that her father knowing of it, must think of her 
in his solitary room as the unnatural child who added this 
\\Tong to the old fault, so much wept for, of never having 
Avon his fatherly affection from her birth. The next kind 
word from Edith, the next kind glance, would shake these 
thoughts again, and make them seem like black ingratitude; 
for who but she had cheered the drooping heart of Florence, 
so lonely and so hurt, and been its best of comforters ! 
Thus, with her gentle nature yearning to them both, feeling 
the misery of both, and whispering doubts of her own duty 
to both, Florence in her wider and expanded love, and by 
the side of Edith, endured more than when she had hoarded 
up her undivided secret in the mournful house, and her 
beautiful Mama had never dawned upon it. 

One exquisite unhappiness that would have far outweighed 
this, Florence was spared. She never had the least suspicion 
that Edith by her tenderness for her widened the separation 
from her father, or gave him new cause of dislike. If Florence 
had conceived the possibility of such an effect being wrought 
by such a cause, what grief she would have felt, what sacrifice 
she would have tried to make, poor loving girl, how fast 
and sure her quiet passage might have been beneath it to 
the presence of that higher Father who does not reject his 
children's love, or spurn their tried and broken hearts, Heaven 
knows ! But it was otherwise, and that was well. 

No word was ever spoken between Florence and Edith 
now, on these subjects. Edith had said there ought to be 
between them, in that wise, a division and a silence like the 
grave itself : and Florence felt that she was right. 

In this state of affairs her father was brought home 
suffering and disabled : and gloomily retired to his own 



MISS NIPPER SPEAKS OUT. 205 

rooms, where he was tended by servants, not approached 
by Edith, and had no friend or companion but Mr. Carker, 
who withdrew near midnight. 

" And nice company he is, Miss Floy," said Susan Nipper. 
" Oh, he's a precious piece of goods ! If ever he wants a 
character don't let him come to me whatever he does, that's 
all I tell him." 

" Dear Susan," urged Florence, " don't ! " 

" Oh, it's very well to say ' don't ' Miss Floy," returned the 
Nipper, much exasperated ; " but raly begging your pardon 
we're coming to such passes that it turns all the blood in a 
person's body into pins and needles, with their pints all ways. 
Don't mistake me, Miss Floy, I don't mean nothing again 
your ma-in-law who has always treated me as a lady should 
though she is rather high I must say not that I have any 
right to object to that particular, but when we come to Mrs. 
Pipchinses and having them put over us and keeping guard 
at your pa's door like crocodiles (only make us thankful that 
they lay no eggs !) we are a growing too outrageous ! " 

"Papa thinks well of Mrs. Pipchin, Susan," returned 
Florence, "and has a right to choose his housekeeper, you 
know. Pray don't ! " 

"Well Miss Floy," returned the Nipper, "when you say 
don't, I never do I hope but Mrs. Pipchin acts like early 
gooseberries upon me Miss, and nothing less." 

Susan was unusually emphatic and destitute of punctua 
tion in her discourse on this night, which was the night of 
Mr. Dombey's being brought home, because, having been 
sent down stairs by Florence to inquire after him, she had 
been obliged to deliver her message to her mortal enemy 
Mrs. Pipchin; who, without carrying it in to Mr. Dombey, 
had taken upon herself to return what Miss Nipper called 
a huffish answer, on her own responsibility. This, Susan 
Nipper construed into presumption on the part of that 
exemplary sufferer by the Peruvian mines, and a deed of 
disparagement upon her young lady, that was not to be 



206 DOMBEY AND SON. 

forgiven ; and so far her emphatic state was special. But she 
had been in a condition of greatly increased suspicion and 
distrust, ever since the marriage; for, like most persons of 
her quality of mind, who form a strong and sincere attach 
ment to one in the different station which Florence occupied, 
Susan was very jealous, and her jealousy naturally attached 
to Edith, who divided her old empire, and came between 
them. Proud and glad as Susan Nipper truly was, that her 
young mistress should be advanced towards her proper place 
in the scene of her old neglect, and that she should have her 
father's handsome wife for her companion and protectress, 
she could not relinquish any part of her own dominion to 
the handsome wife, without a grudge and a vague feeling 
of ill-will, for which she did not fail to find a disinterested 
justification in her sharp perception of the pride and passion 
of the lady's character. From the background to which she 
had necessarily retired somewhat, since the marriage, Miss 
Nipper looked on, therefore, at domestic affairs in general, 
with a resolute conviction that no good would come of Mrs. 
Dombey : always being very careful to publish on all possible 
occasions, that she had nothing to say against her. 

" Susan," said Florence, who was sitting thoughtfully at her 
table, "it is very late. I shall want nothing more to-night." 

" Ah, Miss Floy ! " returned the Nipper, " I'm sure I often 
wish for them old times when I sat up with you hours later 
than this and fell asleep through being tired out when you 
was as broad awake as spectacles, but youVe ma's-in-law to 
come and sit with you now Miss Floy and I'm thankful for it 
I'm sure. I've not a word to say against 'em." 

"I shall not forget who was my old companion when I 
had none, Susan," returned Florence, gently, "never." And 
looking up, she put her arm round the neck of her humble 
friend, drew her face down to hers, and bidding her good 
night, kissed it ; which so mollified Miss Nipper, that she fell 
a sobbing. 

"Now my dear Miss Floy," said Susan, "let me go down 



PAINFUL REFLECTIONS. 207 

stairs again and see how your pa is, I know you're wretched 
about him, do let me go down stairs again and knock at 
his door my own self." 

"No,"" said Florence, "go to bed. We shall hear more in 
the morning. I will inquire myself in the morning. Mama 
has been down, I dare say ; " Florence blushed, for she had 
no such hope ; " or is there now, perhaps. Good night ! " 

Susan was too much softened to express her private opinion 
on the probability of Mrs. Dombey's being in attendance 
on her husband; and silently withdrew. Florence left alone, 
soon hid her head upon her hands as she had often done 
in other days, and did not restrain the tears from coursing 
down her face. The misery of this domestic discord and 
imhappiness ; the withered hope she cherished now, if hope 
it could be called, of ever being taken to her father's heart; 
her doubts and fears between the two ; the yearning of her 
innocent breast to both ; the heavy disappointment and regret 
of such an end as this, to what had been a vision of bright 
hope and promise to her ; all crowded on her mind and made 
her tears flow fast. Her mother and her brother dead, her 
father unmoved towards her, Edith opposed to him and 
casting him away, but loving her, and loved by her, it seemed 
as if her affection could never prosper, rest where it would. 
That weak thought was soon hushed, but the thoughts in 
which it had arisen were too true and strong to be dismissed 
with it; and they made the night desolate. 

Among such reflections there rose up, as there had risen 
up all day, the image of her father, wounded and in pain, 
alone in his own room, untended by those who should be 
nearest to him, and passing the tardy hours in lonely 
suffering. A frightened thought which made her start and 
clasp her hands though it was not a new one in her mind 
that he might die, and never see her or pronounce her 
name, thrilled her whole frame. In her agitation she 
thought, and trembled while she thought, of once more 
stealing down stairs, and venturing to his door. 



208 DOMBEY AND SON. 

She listened at her own. The house was quiet, and all 
the lights were out. It was a long, long time, she thought, 
since she used to make her nightly pilgrimages to his door ! 
It was a long, long time, she tried to think, since she had 
entered his room at midnight, and he had led her back to 
the stair-foot ! 

With the same child's heart within her, as of old : even 
with the child's sweet timid eyes and clustering hair : 
Florence, as strange to her father in her early maiden bloom, 
as in her nursery time, crept down the staircase listening as 
she went, and drew near to his room. No one was stirring 
in the house. The door was partly open to admit air; and 
all was so still within, that she could hear the burning of 
the fire, and count the ticking of the clock that stood upon 
the chimney-piece. 

She looked in. In that room, the housekeeper wrapped 
in a blanket was fast asleep in an easy chair before the fire. 
The doors between it and the next were partly closed, and 
a screen was drawn before them ; but there was a light there, 
and it shone upon the cornice of his bed. All was so very 
still that she could hear from his breathing that he was 
asleep. This gave her courage to pass round the screen, and 
look into his chamber. 

It was as great a start to come upon his sleeping face as 
if she had not expected to see it. Florence stood arrested 
on the spot, and if he had awakened then, must have remained 
there. 

There was a cut upon his forehead, and they had been 
wetting his hair, which lay bedabbled and entangled on 
the pillow. One of his arms, resting outside the bed, was 
bandaged up, and he was very white. But it was not this, 
that after the first quick glance, and first assurance of his 
sleeping quietly, held Florence rooted to the ground. It was 
something very different from this, and more than this, that 
made him look so solemn in her eves. 

*/ 

She had never seen his face in all her life, but there had 



A LOVING GAZE. 209 

been upon it or she fancied so some disturbing consciousness 
of her. She had never seen his face in all her life, but hope 
had sunk within her, and her timid glance had drooped before 
its stern, unloving, and repelling harshness. As she looked 
upon it now, she saw it, for the first time, free from the cloud 
that had darkened her childhood. Calm, tranquil night was 
reigning in its stead. He might have gone to sleep, for 
anything she saw there, blessing her. 

Awake, unkind father ! Awake, now, sullen man ! The 
time is flitting by ; the hour is coming with an angry tread. 
Awake ! 

There was no change upon his face; and as she watched 
it, awfully, its motionless repose recalled the faces that were 
gone. So they looked, so would he ; so she, his weeping child, 
who should say when ! so all the world of love and hatred 
and indifference around them ! When that time should come, 
it would not be the heavier to him, for this that she was 
going to do ; and it might fall something lighter upon her. 

She stole close to the bed, and drawing in her breath bent 
down, and softly kissed him on the face, and laid her own for 
one brief moment by its side, and put the arm, with which 
she dared not touch him, round about him on the pillow. 

Awake, doomed man, while she is near. The time is flitting 
by ; the hour is coming with an angry tread ; its foot is in 
the house. Awake ! 

In her mind, she prayed to God to bless her father, and 
to soften him towards her, if it might be so ; and if not, to 
forgive him if he was wrong, and pardon her the prayer which 
almost seemed impiety. And doing so, and looking back at 
him with blinded eyes, and stealing timidly away, passed out 
of his room, and crossed the other, and was gone. 

He may sleep on now. He may sleep on while he may. 
But let him look for that slight figure when he wakes, and 
find it near him when the hour is come ! 

Sad and grieving was the heart of Florence, as she crept up 
stairs. The quiet house had grown more dismal since she 

VOL. II. * 



210 DOMBEY AND SON. 

came down. The sleep she had been looking on, in the dead 
of night, had the solemnity to her of death and life in one. 
The secrecy and silence of her own proceeding made the night 
secret, silent, and oppressive. She felt unwilling, almost unable, 
to go on to her own chamber ; and turning into the drawing- 
rooms, where the clouded moon was shining through the blinds, 
looked out into the empty streets. 

The wind was blowing drearily. The lamps looked pale, 
and shook as if they were cold. There was a distant glimmer 
of something that was not quite darkness, rather than of light, 
in the sky ; and foreboding night was shivering and restless, 
as the dying are who make a troubled end. Florence remem 
bered how, as a watcher, by a sick bed, she had noted this 
bleak time, and felt its influence, as if in some hidden natural 
antipathy to it ; and now it was very, very gloomy. 

Her Mama had not come to her room that night, which 
was one cause of her having sat late out of her bed. In her 
general uneasiness, no less than in her ardent longing to have 
somebody to speak to, and to break the spell of gloom and 
silence, Florence directed her steps towards the chamber where 
she slept. 

The door was not fastened within, and yielded smoothly to 
her hesitating hand. She was surprised to find a bright light 
burning; still more surprised, on looking in, to see that her 
Mama, but partially undressed, was sitting near the ashes of 
the fire, which had crumbled and dropped away. Her eyes 
were intently bent upon the air; and in their light, and in 
her face, and in her form, and in the grasp with which she 
held the elbows of her chair as if about to start up, Florence 
saw such fierce emotion that it terrified her. 

" Mama ! " she cried, " what is the matter ! " 

Edith started ; looking at her with such a strange dread in 
her face, that Florence was more frightened than before. 

"Mama!"" said Florence, hurriedly advancing. "Dear 
Mama ! what is the matter ! " 

" I have not been well," said Edith, shaking, and still looking 



BAD DREAMS. 211 

at her in the same strange way. "I have had bad dreams, 
my love." 

"And not yet been to bed, Mama? 11 

" No,"" she returned. " Half-waking dreams." 

Her features gradually softened; and suffering Florence to 
come close to her, within her embrace, she said in a tender 
manner, " But what does my bird do here ! "What does my 
bird do here ! " 

" I have been uneasy, Mama, in not seeing you to-night, 
and in not knowing how Papa was ; and I " 

Florence stopped there, and said no more. 

"Is it late? 11 asked Edith, fondly putting back the curls 
that mingled with her own dark hair, and strayed upon her 
face. 

" Very late. Near day. 11 

" Near day ! " she repeated in surprise. 

"Dear Mama, what have you done to your hand? 11 said 
Florence. 

Edith drew it suddenly away, and, for a moment, looked 
at her with the same strange dread (there was a sort of wild 
avoidance in it) as before ; but she presently said, " Nothing, 
nothing. A blow. 11 And then she said, " My Florence ! " and 
then her bosom heaved, and she was weeping passionately. 

" Mama ! " said Florence. " Oh Mama, what can I do, 
what should I do, to make us happier ? Is there anything ! " 

" Nothing, 11 she replied. 

" Are you sure of that ? Can it never be ? If I speak now 
of what is in my thoughts, in spite of what we have agreed, 11 
said Florence, "you will not blame me, will you?" 

" It is useless, 11 she replied, " useless. I have told you, dear, 
that I have had bad dreams. Nothing can change them, or 
prevent their coming back. 11 

" I do not understand, 11 said Florence, gazing on her agitated 
face, which seemed to darken as she looked. 

" I have dreamed, 11 said Edith in a low voice, " of a pride 
that is all powerless for good, all powerful for evil ; of a pride 



DOMBEY AND SON. 

that has been galled and goaded, through many shameful 
years, and has never recoiled except upon itself; a pride that 
has debased its owner with the consciousness of deep humilia 
tion, and never helped its owner boldly to resent it or avoid 
it, or to say, * This shall not be ! ' a pride that, rightly guided, 
might have led perhaps to better things, but which, misdirected 
and perverted, like all else belonging to the same possessor, 
has been self-contempt, mere hardihood, and ruin." 

She neither looked nor spoke to Florence now, but went 
on as if she were alone. 

" I have dreamed," she said, " of such indifference and 
callousness, arising from this self-contempt; this wretched, 
inefficient, miserable pride ; that it has gone on with listless 
steps even to the altar, yielding to the old, familiar, beckoning 
finger, oh mother, oh mother ! while it spurned it ; and 
willing to be hateful to itself for once and for all, rather than 
to be stung daily in some new form. Mean, poor thing ! " 

And now with gathering and darkening emotion, she looked 
as she had looked when Florence entered. 

" And I have dreamed," she said, " that in a first late effort 
to achieve a purpose, it has been trodden on, and trodden 
down by a base foot, but turns and looks upon him. I have 
dreamed that it is wounded, hunted, set upon by dogs, but 
that it stands at bay, and will not yield ; no, that it cannot 
if it would ; but that it is urged on to hate him, rise against 
him, and defy him ! " 

Her clenched hand tightened on the trembling arm she had 
in hers, and as she looked down on the alarmed and wondering 
face, her own subsided. " Oh Florence ! " she said, " I think 
I have been nearly mad to-night ! " and humbled her proud 
head upon her neck, and wept again. 

" Don't leave me ! be near me ! I have no hope but in you ! " 
These words she said a score of times. 

Soon she grew calmer, and was full of pity for the tears of 
Florence, and for her waking at such untimely hours. And 
the day now dawning, Edith folded her in her arms and laid 



NO EARTHLY HOPE BUT ONE. 213 

her down upon her bed, and, not lying down herself, sat by 
her, and bade her try to sleep. 

" For you are weary, dearest, and unhappy, and should rest. 11 
" I am indeed unhappy, dear Mama, to-night, 11 said Florence. 
" But you are weary and unhappy, too. 11 

"Not when you lie asleep so near me, sweet. 11 
They kissed each other, and Florence, worn out, gradually 
fell into a gentle slumber ; but as her eyes closed on the face 
beside her, it was so sad to think upon the face down stairs, 
that her hand drew closer to Edith for some comfort ; yet, 
even in the act, it faltered, lest it should be deserting him. 
So, in her sleep, she tried to reconcile the two together, and 
to show them that she loved them both, but could not do it, 
and her waking grief was part of her dreams. 

Edith, sitting by, looked down at the dark eyelashes lying 
wet on the flushed cheeks, and looked with gentleness and pity, 
for she knew the truth. But no sleep hung upon her own 
eyes. As the day came on she still sat watching and waking, 
with the placid hand in hers, and sometimes whispered, as she 
looked at the hushed face, " Be near me, Florence, I have no 
hope but in you! 1 ' 



CHAPTER XLIV. 

A SEPARATION. 

WITH the day, though not so early as the sun, uprose Miss 
Susan Nipper. There was a heaviness in this young maiden's 
exceedingly sharp black eyes, that abated somewhat of their 
sparkling, and suggested which was not their usual character 
the possibility of their being sometimes shut. There was 
likewise a swollen look about them, as if they had been crying 
over-night. But the Nipper, so far from being cast down, was 
singularly brisk and bold, and all her energies appeared to be 
braced up for some great feat. This was noticeable even in 
her dress, which was much more tight and trim than usual ; 
and in occasional twitches of her head as she went about the 
house, which were mightily expressive of determination. 

In a word, she had formed a determination, and an aspiring 
one : it being nothing less than this to penetrate to Mr. 
Dombey's presence, and have speech of that gentleman alone. 
"I have often said I would/ 1 she remarked, in a threatening 
manner, to herself, that morning, with many twitches of her 
head, "and now I will!"" 

Spurring herself on to the accomplishment of this desperate 
design, with a sharpness that was peculiar to herself, Susan 
Nipper haunted the hall and staircase during the whole fore 
noon, without finding a favourable opportunity for the assault. 
Not at all baffled by this discomfiture, which indeed had a 
stimulating effect, and put her on her mettle, she diminished 



IN THE DREAD PRESENCE. 

nothing of her vigilance ; and at last discovered, towards 
evening, that her sworn foe Mrs. Pipchin, under pretence of 
having sat up all night, was dozing in her own room, and that 
Mr. Dombey was lying on his sofa, unattended. 

With a twitch not of her head merely, this time, but of 
her whole self the Nipper went on tiptoe to Mr. Dombey's 
door, and knocked. " Come in ! " said Mr. Dombey. Susan 
encouraged herself with a final twitch, and went in. 

Mr. Dombey, who was eyeing the fire, gave an amazed look 
at his visitor, and raised himself a little on his arm. The 
Nipper dropped a curtsey. 

" What do you want ? " said Mr. Dombey. 
" If you please, Sir, I wish to speak to you," said Susan. 
Mr. Dombey moved his lips as if he were repeating the 
words, but he seemed so lost in astonishment at the presump 
tion of the young woman as to be incapable of giving them 
utterance. 

66 1 have been in your service, Sir," said Susan Nipper, with 
her usual rapidity, " now twelve year a waiting on Miss Floy 
my own young lady who couldn't speak plain when I first 
come here and I was old in this house when Mrs. Richards 
was new, I may not be Meethosalem, but I am not a child 
in arms. 11 

Mr. Dombey, raised upon his arm and looking at her, offered 
no comment on this preparatory statement of facts. 

"There never was a dearer or a blesseder young lady than 
is my young lady, Sir, 11 said Susan, "and I ought to know a 
great deal better than some for I have seen her in her grief 
and I have seen her in her joy (there's not been much of it) 
and I have seen her with her brother and I have seen her in 
her loneliness and some have never seen her, and I say to 
some and all I do ! " and here the black-eyed shook her head, 
and slightly stamped her foot ; " that she's the blessedest and 
dearest angel is Miss Floy that ever drew the breath of life, 
the more that I was torn to pieces Sir the more I'd say it 
though I may not be a Fox's Martyr." 



216 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Mr. Dombey turned yet paler than his fall had made him, 
with indignation and astonishment; and kept his eyes upon 
the speaker as if he accused them, and his ears too, of playing 
him false. 

"No one could be anything but true and faithful to Miss 
Floy, Sir," pursued Susan, " and I take no merit for my service 
of twelve year, for I love her yes, I say to some and all I 
do ! " and here the black-eyed shook her head again, and 
slightly stamped her foot again, and checked a sob ; " but 
true and faithful service gives me right to speak I hope, and 
speak I must and will now, right or wrong."" 

" What do you mean, woman ! " said Mr. Dombey, glaring 
at her. " How do you dare ? " 

"What I mean, Sir, is to speak respectful and without 
offence, but out, and how I dare I know not but I do ! " said 
Susan. " Oh ! you don't know my young lady Sir you don't 
indeed, you'd never know so little of her, if you did." 

Mr. Dombey, in a fury, put his hand out for the bell- 
rope; but there was no bell-rope on that side of the fire, 
and he could not rise and cross to the other without assist 
ance. The quick eye of the Nipper detected his helplessness 
immediately, and now, as she afterwards observed, she felt 
she had got him. 

" Miss Floy," said Susan Nipper, " is the most devoted and 
most patient and most dutiful and beautiful of daughters, 
there an't no gentleman, no Sir, though as great and rich as 
all the greatest and richest of England put together, but might 
be proud of her and would and ought. If he knew her value 
right, he'd rather lose his greatness and his fortune piece by 
piece and beg his way in rags from door to door, I say to 
some and all, he would ! " cried Susan Nipper, bursting into 
tears, " than bring the sorrow on her tender heart that I have 
seen it suffer in this house ! " 

" Woman," cried Mr. Dombey, " leave the room." 

"Begging your pardon, not even if I am> to leave the 
situation, Sir," replied the steadfast Nipper, " in which I have 



MR. DOMBEY NIPPED. 217 

been so many years and seen so much although I hope you'd 
never have the heart to send me from Miss Floy for such a 
cause will I go now till I have said the rest, I may not be 
a Indian widow Sir and I am not and I would not so become 
but if I once made up my mind to burn myself alive, I'd do 
it ! And I've made my mind up to go on." 

Which was rendered no less clear by the expression of Susan 
Nipper's countenance, than by her words. 

"There an't a person in your service, Sir," pursued the 
black-eyed, " that has always stood more in awe of you than 
me and you may think how true it is when I make so bold 
as say that I have hundreds and hundreds of times thought 
of speaking to you and never been able to make my mind 
up to it till last night, but last night decided of me." 

Mr. Dombey, in a paroxysm of rage, made another grasp at 
the bell-rope that was not there, and, in its absence, pulled 
his hair rather than nothing. 

" I have seen," said Susan Nipper, " Miss Floy strive and 
strive when nothing but a child so sweet and patient that the 
best of women might have copied from her, I've seen her sitting 
nights together half the night through to help her delicate 
brother with his learning, I've seen her helping him and 
watching him at other times some well know when I've 
seen her, with no encouragement and no help, grow up to be 
a lady, thank God ! that is the grace and pride of every 
company she goes in, and I've always seen her cruelly 
neglected and keenly feeling of it I say to some and all, I 
have ! and never said one word, but ordering one's self 
lowly and reverently towards one's betters, is not to be a 
worshipper of graven images, and I will and must speak ! " 

" Is there anybody there ! " cried Mr. Dombey, calling out. 
" Where are the men ! where are the women ! Is there no 
one there ! " 

" I left my dear young lady out of bed late last night," said 
Susan, nothing checked, "and I knew why, for you was ill Sir 
and she didn't know how ill and that was enough to make 



218 DOMBEY AND SON. 

her wretched as I saw it did. I may not be a Peacock ; but I 
have my eyes and I sat up a little in my own room thinking 
she might be lonesome and might want me, and I saw her 
steal down stairs and come to this door as if it was a guilty 
thing to look at her own Pa, and then steal back again and 
go into them lonely drawing-rooms, a crying so, that I could 
hardly bear to hear it. I can not bear to hear it," said Susan 
Nipper, wiping her black eyes, and fixing them undauntingly 
on Mr. Dombey's infuriated face. " It's not the first time I 
have heard it, not by many and many a time you don't know 
your own daughter, Sir, you don't know what you're doing, 
Sir, I say to some and all," cried Susan Nipper, in a final 
burst, " that it's a sinful shame ! " 

" Why, hoity toity ! " cried the voice of Mrs. Pipchin, as 
the black bombazeen garments of that fair Peruvian Miner 
swept into the room. " What's this, indeed ! " 

Susan favoured Mrs. Pipchin with a look she had invented 
expressly for her when they first became acquainted, and 
resigned the reply to Mr. Dombey. 

" What's this ! " repeated Mr. Dombey, almost foaming. 
"What's this, Madam? You who are at the head of this 
household, and bound to keep it in order, have reason to 
inquire. Do you know this woman?" 

" I know very little good of her, Sir," croaked Mrs. Pipchin. 
" How dare you come here, you hussy ? Go along with you ! " 

But the inflexible Nipper, merely honouring Mrs. Pipchin 
with another look, remained. 

" Do you call it managing this establishment, Madam," said 
Mr. Dombey, "to leave a person like this at liberty to come 
and talk to me ! A gentleman in his own house in his own 
room assailed with the impertinences of women servants ! " 

"Well, Sir," returned Mrs. Pipchin, with vengeance in her 
hard grey eye, "I exceedingly deplore it; nothing can be 
more irregular; nothing can be more out of all bounds and 
reason ; but I regret to say, Sir, that this young Avoman is 
quite beyond control. She has been spoiled by Miss Dombey, 



MISS NIPPER DISCHARGED. 

and is amenable to nobody. You know you're not," said 
Mrs. Pipchin, sharply, and shaking her head at Susan Nipper. 
" For shame, you hussy ! Go along with you ! " 

"If you find people in my service who are not to be con 
trolled, Mrs. Pipchin, 1 ' said Mr. Dombey, turning back towards 
the fire, " you know what to do with them, I presume. You 
know what you are here for ? Take her away ! " 

" Sir, I know what to do,' 1 retorted Mrs. Pipchin, " and of 
course shall do it. Susan Nipper, 11 snapping her up particu 
larly short, " a month's warning from this hour. 1 ' 

" Oh indeed ! " cried Susan, loftily. 

" Yes," returned Mrs. Pipchin, " and don't smile at me, you 
minx, or I'll know the reason why ! Go along with you this 
minute ! " 

"I intend to go this minute, you may rely upon it," said 
the voluble Nipper. " I have been in this house waiting on 
my young lady a dozen year and I won't stop in it one hour 
under notice from a person owning to the name of Pipchin, 
trust me, Mrs. P." 

" A good riddance of bad rubbish ! " said that wrathful old 
lady. " Get along with you, or I'll have you carried out ! " 

" My comfort is," said Susan, looking back at Mr. Dombey, 
"that I have told a piece of truth this day which ought to 
have been told long before and can't be told too often or too 
plain and that no amount of Pipchinses I hope the number 
of 'em mayn't be great" (here Mrs. Pipchin uttered a very 
sharp " Go along with you ! " and Miss Nipper repeated the 
look) " can unsay what I have said, though they gave a whole 
year full of warnings beginning at ten o'clock in the forenoon 
and never leaving off till twelve at night and died of the 
exhaustion which would be a Jubilee ! " 

With these words, Miss Nipper preceded her foe out of the 
room ; and walking up stairs to her own apartments in great 
state, to the choking exasperation of the ireful Pipchin, sat 
down among her boxes and began to cry. 

From this soft mood she was soon aroused, with a very 



220 DOMBEY AND SON. 

wholesome and refreshing effect, by the voice of Mrs. Pipchin 
outside the door. 

" Does that bold-faced slut,"" said the fell Pipchin, " intend 
to take her warning, or does she not ? " 

Miss Nipper replied from within that the person described 
did not inhabit that part of the house, but that her name was 
Pipchin, and she was to be found in the housekeeper's room. 

" You saucy baggage ! " retorted Mrs. Pipchin, rattling at 
the handle of the door. "Go along with you this minute. 
Pack up your things directly ! How dare you talk in this 
way to a gentlewoman who has seen better days ? " 

To which Miss Nipper rejoined from her castle, that she 
pitied the better days that had seen Mrs. Pipchin ; and that 
for her part she considered the worst days in the year to be 
about that lady's mark, except that they were much too good 
for her. 

" But you needn't trouble yourself to make a noise at my 
door," said Susan Nipper, "nor to contaminate the key-hole 
with your eye, I'm packing up and going you may take your 
affidavit." 

The Dowager expressed her lively satisfaction at this intelli 
gence, and with some general opinions upon young hussies as 
a race, and especially upon their demerits after being spoiled 
by Miss Dombey, withdrew to prepare the Nipper's wages. 
Susan then bestirred herself to get her trunks in order, that 
she might take an immediate and dignified departure ; sobbing 
heartily all the time, as she thought of Florence. 

The object of her regret was not long in coming to her, for 
the news soon spread over the house that Susan Nipper had 
had a disturbance with Mrs. Pipchin, and that they had both 
appealed to Mr. Dombey, and that there had been an unpre 
cedented piece of work in Mr. Dombey's room, and that Susan 
was going. The latter part of this confused rumour, Florence 
found to be so correct, that Susan had locked the last trunk 
and was sitting upon it with her bonnet on, when she came 
into her room. 



GOOD-BYE TO MISS FLORENCE. 

" Susan ! " cried Florence. " Going to leave me ! You ! " 

"Oh for goodness gracious sake, Miss Floy," said Susan, 
sobbing, " don't speak a word to me or I shall demean myself 
before them Pi-i-ipchinses, and I wouldn't have 'em see me 
cry Miss Floy for worlds ! " 

" Susan ! " said Florence. " My dear girl, my old friend ! 
What shall I do without you ! Can you bear to go away so ? r ' 

"No-n-o-o, my darling dear Miss Floy, I can't indeed," 
sobbed Susan. "But it can't be helped, I've done my duty 
Miss, I have indeed. It's no fault of mine. I am quite 
resi-igned. I couldn't stay my month or I could never leave 
you then my darling and I must at last as well as at first, 
don't speak to me Miss Floy, for though I'm pretty firm I'm 
not a marble doorpost, my own dear." 

"What is it? Why is it?" said Florence. "Won't you 
tell me ? " For Susan was shaking her head. 

" No-n-no, my darling," returned Susan. " Don't ask me, 
for I mustn't, and whatever you do don't put in a word for 
me to stop, for it couldn't be and you'd only wrong yourself, 
and so God bless you my own precious and forgive me any 
harm I have done, or any temper I have showed in all these 
many years ! " 

With which entreaty, very heartily delivered, Susan hugged 
her mistress in her arms. 

"My darling there's a many that may come to serve you 
and be glad to serve you and who'll serve you well and 
true," said Susan, "but there can't be one who'll serve you 
so affectionate as me or love you half as dearly, that's my 
comfort. Go-ood-bye, sweet Miss Floy ! " 

" Where will you go, Susan ? " asked her weeping mistress. 

"I've got a brother down in the country Miss a farmer 
in Essex," said the heart-broken Nipper, "that keeps ever so 
many co-o-ows and pigs and I shall go down there by the 
coach and sto-op with him, and don't mind me, for I've got 
money in the Savings' Banks my dear, and needn't take another 
service just yet, which I couldn't, couldn't, couldn't do, my 



222 DOMBEY AND SON. 

heart's own mistress ! " Susan finished with a burst of sorrow, 
which was opportunely broken by the voice of Mrs. Pipchin 
talking down stairs ; on hearing which, she dried her red and 
swollen eyes, and made a melancholy feint of calling jauntily 
to Mr. Towlinson to fetch a cab and carry down her boxes. 

Florence, pale and hurried and distressed, but withheld from 
useless interference even here, by her dread of causing any 
new division between her father and his wife (whose stern, 
indignant face had been a warning to her a few moments 
since), and by her apprehension of being in some way uncon 
sciously connected already with the dismissal of her old servant 
and friend, followed, weeping, down stairs to Edith's dressing- 
room, whither Susan betook herself to make her parting curtsey. 

" Now, here's the cab, and here's the boxes, get along with 
you, do ! " said Mrs. Pipchin, presenting herself at the same 
moment. "I beg your pardon, Ma'am, but Mr. Dombey's 
orders are imperative." 

Edith, sitting under the hands of her maid she was going 
out to dinner preserved her haughty face, and took not the 
least notice. 

" There's your money," said Mrs. Pipchin, who in pursuance 
of her system, and in recollection of the mines, was accustomed 
to rout the servants about, as she had routed her young 
Brighton boarders ; to the everlasting acidulation of Master 
Bitherstone, "and the sooner this house sees your back the 
better." 

Susan had no spirits even for the look that belonged to 
Mrs. Pipchin by right; so she dropped her curtsey to Mrs. 
Dombey (who inclined her head without one word, and whose 
eye avoided every one but Florence), and gave one last parting 
hug to her young mistress, and received her parting embrace 
in return. Poor Susan's face at this crisis, in the intensity of 
her feelings and the determined suffocation of her sobs, lest 
one should become audible and be a triumph to Mrs. Pipchin, 
presented a series of the most extraordinary physiognomical 
phenomena ever witnessed. 



MR. TOOTS RECEIVES A COMMISSION. 223 

"I beg your pardon, Miss, I'm sure, 11 said Towlinson, outside 
the door with the boxes, addressing Florence, " but Mr. Toots 
is in the drawing-room, and sends his compliments, and begs 
to know how Diogenes and Master is. 11 

Quick as thought, Florence glided out and hastened down 
stairs, where Mr. Toots, in the most splendid vestments, was 
breathing very hard with doubt and agitation on the subject 
of her coining. 

"Oh, how de do, Miss Dombey, 11 said Mr. Toots, "God 
bless my soul ! " 

This last ejaculation was occasioned by Mr. Toots^ deep 
concern at the distress he saw in Florence's face ; which caused 
him to stop short in a fit of chuckles, and become an image 
of despair. 

"Dear Mr. Toots, 11 said Florence, "you are so friendly 
to me, and so honest, that I am sure I may ask a favour 
of you. 11 

"Miss Dombey, 11 returned Mr. Toots, "if you'll only 
name one, you'll you'll give me an appetite. To which," 
said Mr. Toots, with some sentiment, "I have long been 
a stranger. 11 

" Susan, who is an old friend of mine, the oldest friend I 
have," said Florence, "is about to leave here suddenly, and 
quite alone, poor girl. She is going home, a little way into 
the country. Might I ask you to take care of her until she 
is in the coach?" 

"Miss Dombey," returned Mr. Toots, "you really do me 
an honour and a kindness. This proof of your confidence, 
after the manner in which I was Beast enough to conduct 
myself at Brighton " 

" Yes," said Florence, hurriedly " no don't think of that. 
Then would you have the kindness to to go ? and to be ready 
to meet her when she comes out ? Thank you a thousand 
times ! You ease my mind so much. She doesn't seem so 
desolate. You cannot think how grateful I feel to you, or 
what a good friend I am sure you are ! " And Florence in her 



224, DOMBEY AND SON. 

earnestness thanked him again and again ; and Mr. Toots, in 
his earnestness, hurried away but backwards, that he might 
lose no glimpse of her. 

Florence had not the courage to go out, when she saw poor 
Susan in the hall, with Mrs. Pipchin driving her forth, and 
Diogenes jumping about her, and terrifying Mrs. Pipchin to 
the last degree by making snaps at her bombazeen skirts, and 
howling with anguish at the sound of her voice for the good 
duenna was the dearest and most cherished aversion of his 
breast. But she saw Susan shake hands with the servants 
all round, and turn once to look at her old home ; and she 
saw Diogenes bound out after the cab, and want to follow 
it, and testify an impossibility of conviction that he had no 
longer any property in the fare ; and the door was shut, and 
the hurry over, and her tears flowed fast for the loss of an 
old friend, whom no one could replace. No one. No one. 

Mr. Toots, like the leal and trusty soul he was, stopped the 
cabriolet in a twinkling, and told Susan Nipper of his com 
mission, at which she cried more than before. 

" Upon my soul and body ! " said Mr. Toots, taking his 
seat beside her, " I feel for you. Upon my word and honour 
I think you can hardly know your own feelings better than 
I imagine them. I can conceive nothing more dreadful than 
to have to leave Miss Dombey. 11 

Susan abandoned herself to her grief now, and it really was 
touching to see her. 

" I say," said Mr. Toots, " now, don't ! at least I mean now 
do, you know ! " 

"Do what, Mr. Toots?" cried Susan. 

"Why, come home to my place, and have some dinner 
before you start, 11 said Mr. Toots. "My cook's a most 
respectable woman one of the most motherly people I ever 
saw and she'll be delighted to make you comfortable. Her 
son, 11 said Mr. Toots, as an additional recommendation, 
"was educated in the Blue-coat School, and blown up in a 
powder-mill. 11 



HOSPITALITY OF MR. TOOTS. 225 

Susan accepting this kind offer, Mr. Toots conducted her 
to his dwelling, where they were received by the Matron in 
question who fully justified his character of her, and by the 
Chicken, who at first supposed, on seeing a lady in the vehicle, 
that Mr. Dombey had been doubled up, agreeably to his old 
recommendation, and Miss Dombey abducted. This gentle 
man awakened in Miss Nipper some considerable astonishment ; 
for, having been defeated by the Larkey Boy, his visage was 
in a state of such great dilapidation, as to be hardly present 
able in society with comfort to the beholders. The Chicken 
himself attributed this punishment to his having had the mis 
fortune to get into Chancery early in the proceedings, when 
he was severely fibbed by the Larkey one, and heavily grassed. 
But it appeared from the published records of that great 
contest that the Larkey Boy had had it all his own way from 
the beginning, and that the Chicken had been tapped, and 
bunged, and had received pepper, and had been made groggy, 
and had come up piping, and had endured a complication of 
similar strange inconveniences, until he had been gone into 
and finished. 

After a good repast, and much hospitality, Susan set out 
for the coach-office in another cabriolet, with Mr. Toots 
inside, as before, and the Chicken on the box, who, whatever 
distinction he conferred on the little party by the moral weight 
and heroism of his character, was scarcely ornamental to it, 
physically speaking, on account of his plasters ; which were 
numerous. But the Chicken had registered a vow, in secret, 
that he would never leave Mr. Toots (who was secretly pining 
to get rid of him), for any less consideration than the good 
will and fixtures of a public-house ; and being ambitious to 
go into that line, and drink himself to death as soon as 
possible, he felt it his cue to make his company unacceptable. 

The night-coach by which Susan was to go, was on the 
point of departure. Mr. Toots having put her inside, lingered 
by the window, irresolutely, until the driver was about to 
mount; when, standing on the step, and putting in a face 

VOL. II. Q 



226 DOMBEY AND SON. 

that by the light of the lamp was anxious and confused, he 
said abruptly : 

" I say, Susan ! Miss Dombey, you know " 

"Yes, Sir. 1 ' 

"Do you think she could you know eh?" 

" I beg your pardon, Mr. Toots," said Susan, " but I don^ 
hear you." 

"Do you think she could be brought, you know not 
exactly at once, but in time in a long time to to love 
me, you know ! There ! " said poor Mr. Toots. 

" Oh dear no ! "" returned Susan, shaking her head. " I 
should say, never. Ne ver!" 

" Thank'ee ! " said Mr. Toots. " It's of no consequence. 
Good night. Ifs of no consequence, thank'ee ! " 



CHAPTER XLV. 

THE TRUSTY AGENT. 

EDITH went out alone that day, and returned home early. It 
was but a few minutes after ten o'clock, when her carriage 
rolled along the street in which she lived. 

There was the same enforced composure on her face, that 
there had been when she was dressing; and the wreath upon 
her head encircled the same cold and steady brow. But it 
would have been better to have seen its leaves and flowers 
reft into fragments by her passionate hand, or rendered shape 
less by the fitful searches of a throbbing and bewildered brain 
for any resting-place, than adorning such tranquillity. So 
obdurate, so unapproachable, so unrelenting, one would have 
thought that nothing could soften such a woman's nature, 
and that everything in life had hardened it. 

Arrived at her own door, she was alighting, when some 
one coming quietly from the hall, and standing bareheaded, 
offered her his arm. The servant being thrust aside, she 
had no choice but to touch it; and she then knew whose 
arm it was. 

" How is your patient, Sir ? " she said, with a curled lip. 

" He is better," returned Carker. " He is doing very well. 
I have left him for the night."" 

She bent her head, and was passing up the staircase, when 
he followed and said, speaking at the bottom : 

" Madam ! May I beg the favour of a minute's audience ? ' 1 



228 DOMBEY AND SON. 

She stopped and turned her eyes back. "It is an un 
reasonable time, Sir, and I am fatigued. Is your business 
urgent ? " 

"It is very urgent, 11 returned Carker. "As I am so for 
tunate as to have met you, let me press my petition." 

She looked down for a moment at his glistening mouth ; 
and he looked up at her, standing above him in her stately 
dress, and thought, again, how beautiful she was. 

" Where is Miss Dombey ? " she asked the servant, aloud. 

" In the morning room, Ma'am." 

" Show the way there ! " Turning her eyes again on the 
attentive gentleman at the bottom of the stairs, and informing 
him with a slight motion of her head, that he was at liberty 
to follow, she passed on. 

" I beg your pardon ! Madam ! Mrs. Dombey ! " cried the 
soft and nimble Carker at her side in a moment. "May I 
be permitted to entreat that Miss Dombey is not present ? " 

She confronted him, with a quick look, but with the same 
self-possession and steadiness. 

" I would spare Miss Dombey, 11 said Carker, in a low voice, 
" the knowledge of what I have to say. At least, Madam, I 
would leave it to you to decide whether she shall know of it 
or not. I owe that to you. It is my bounden duty to you. 
After our former interview, it would be monstrous in me if I 
did otherwise. 11 

She slowly withdrew her eyes from his face, and turning 
to the servant, said, " Some other room. 11 He led the way to 
a drawing-room, which he speedily lighted up and then left 
them. While he remained, not a word was spoken. Edith 
enthroned herself upon a couch by the fire ; and Mr. Carker, 
with his hat in his hand and his eyes bent upon the carpet, 
stood before her, at some little distance. 

"Before I hear you, Sir," said Edith, when the door was 
closed, "I wish you to hear me. 11 

"To be addressed by Mrs. Dombey, 11 he returned, "even 
in accents of unmerited reproach, is an honour I so greatly 



THE MESSENGER IS CONFIDENTIAL. 229 

esteem, that although I were not her servant in all things, I 
should defer to such a wish, most readily." 

" If you are charged by the man whom you have just now 
left, Sir ; " Mr. Carker raised his eyes, as if he were going to 
counterfeit surprise, but she met them, and stopped him, if 
such were his intention ; " with any message to me, do not 
attempt to deliver it, for I will not receive it. I need scarcely 
ask you if you are come on such an errand. I have expected 
you some time." 

"It is my misfortune," he replied, "to be here, wholly 
against my will, for such a purpose. Allow me to say that 
I am here for two purposes. That is one." 

" That one, Sir," she returned, " is ended. Or, if you return 
to it " 

"Can Mrs. Dombey believe," said Carker, coming nearer, 
"that I would return to it in the face of her prohibition? 
Is it possible that Mrs. Dombey, having no regard to my 
unfortunate position, is so determined to consider me in 
separable from my instructor as to do me great and wilful 
injustice ? " 

" Sir," returned Edith, bending her dark gaze full upon him, 
and speaking with a rising passion that inflated her proud 
nostril and her swelling neck, and stirred the delicate Avhite 
down upon a robe she wore, thrown loosely over shoulders 
that could bear its snowy neighbourhood. "Why do you 
present yourself to me, as you have done, and speak to me 
of love and duty to my husband, and pretend to think that 
I am happily married, and that I honour him ? How dare 
you venture so to affront me, when you know / do not know 
better, Sir : I have seen it in your every glance, and heard it 
in your every word that in place of affection between us 
there is aversion and contempt, and that I despise him hardly 
less than I despise myself for being his ! Injustice ! If I had 
done justice to the torment you have made me feel, and to 
my sense of the insult you have put upon me, I should have 
slain you ! " 



230 DOMBEY AND SON. 

She had asked him why he did this. Had she not been 
blinded by her pride and wrath, and self-humiliation, which 
she was, fiercely as she bent her gaze upon him, she would 
have seen the answer in his face. To bring her to this 
declaration. 

She saw it not, and cared not whether it was there or no. 
She saw only the indignities and struggles she had undergone, 
and had to undergo, and was writhing under them. As she 
sat looking fixedly at them, rather than at him, she plucked 
the feathers from a pinion of some rare and beautiful bird, 
which hung from her wrist by a golden thread, to serve her 
as a fan, and rained them on the ground. 

He did not shrink beneath her gaze, but stood, until such 
outward signs of her anger as had escaped her control subsided, 
with the air of a man who had his sufficient reply in reserve 
and would presently deliver it. And he then spoke, looking 
straight into her kindling eyes. 

" Madam, 1 ' he said, " I know, and knew before to-day, that 
I have found no favour with you ; and I knew why. Yes. I 
knew why. You have spoken so openly to me ; I am so 
relieved by the possession of your confidence " 

" Confidence ! " she repeated, with disdain. 

He passed it over. 

" that I will make no pretence of concealment. I did 
see from the first, that there was no affection on your part 
for Mr. Dombey how could it possibly exist between such 
different subjects? And I have seen, since, that stronger 
feelings than indifference have been engendered in your breast 
how could that possibly be otherwise, either, circumstanced 
as you have been? But was it for me to presume to avow 
this knowledge to you in so many words ? " 

" Was it for you, Sir, 11 she replied, " to feign that other 
belief, and audaciously to thrust it on me day by day ? " 

" Madam, it was," he eagerly retorted. " If I had done 
less, if I had done anything but that, I should not be speak 
ing to you thus ; and I foresaw who could better foresee, for 



INTEREST AND CONVENIENCE. 231 

who has had greater experience of Mr. Dombey than myself? 
that unless your character should prove to be as yielding 
and obedient as that of his first submissive lady, which I did 
not believe " 

A haughty smile gave dim reason to observe that he might 
repeat this. 

"I say, which I did not believe, the time was likely to 
come, when such an understanding as we have now arrived at, 
would be serviceable. 1 ' 

" Serviceable to whom, Sir ? " she demanded scornfully. 

"To you. I will not add to myself, as warning me to 
refrain even from that limited commendation of Mr. Dombey, 
in which I can honestly indulge, in order that I may not 
have the misfortune of saying anything distasteful to one 
whose aversion and contempt," with great expression, "are 
so keen. 11 

" Is it honest in you, sir," said Edith, " to confess to 
your * limited commendation, 1 and to speak in that tone of 
disparagement, even of him : being his chief counsellor and 
flatterer ! " 

" Counsellor, yes," said Carker. " Flatterer, no. A little 
reservation I fear I must confess to. But our interest and 
convenience commonly oblige many of us to make professions 
that we cannot feel. We have partnerships of interest and 
convenience, friendships of interest and convenience, dealings 
of interest and convenience, marriages of interest and con 
venience, every day. 11 

She bit her blood-red lip ; but without wavering in the 
dark, stern watch she kept upon him. 

"Madam, 11 said Mr. Carker, sitting down in a chair that 
was near her, with an air of the most profound and most con 
siderate respect, " why should I hesitate now, being altogether 
devoted to your service, to speak plainly ! It was natural 
that a lady, endowed as you are, should think it feasible to 
change her husband's character in some respects, and mould 
him to a better form." 



232 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" It was not natural to me, Sir," she rejoined. " I had never 
any expectation or intention of that kind." 

The proud undaunted face showed him it was resolute to 
wear no mask he offered, but was set upon a reckless disclosure 
of itself, indifferent to any aspect in which it might present 
itself to such as he. 

" At least it was natural," he resumed, " that you should 
deem it quite possible to live with Mr. Dombey as his wife, 
at once without submitting to him, and without coming into 
such violent collision with him. But, Madam, you did not 
know Mr. Dombey (as you have since ascertained), when you 
thought that. You did not know how exacting and how 
proud he is, or how he is, if I may say so, the slave of his 
own greatness, and goes yoked to his own triumphal car like 
a beast of burden, with no idea on earth but that it is behind 
him and is to be drawn on, over everything and through 
everything." 

His teeth gleamed through his malicious relish of this 
conceit, as he went on talking : 

" Mr. Dombey is really capable of no more true consideration 
for you, Madam, than for me. The comparison is an extreme 
one; I intend it to be so; but quite just. Mr. Dombey, in 
the plenitude of his power, asked me I had it from his own 
lips yesterday morning to be his go-between to you, because 
he knows I am not agreeable to you, and because he intends 
that I shall be a punishment for your contumacy ; and besides 
that, because he really does consider, that I, his paid servant, 
am an ambassador whom it is derogatory to the dignity not 
of the lady to whom I have the happiness of speaking : she 
has no existence in his mind but of his wife, a part of him 
self, to receive. You may imagine how regardless of me, how 
obtuse to the possibility of my having any individual senti 
ment or opinion he is, when he tells me, openly, that I am 
so employed. You know how perfectly indifferent to your 
feelings he is, when he threatens you with such a messenger. 
As yon, of course, have not forgotten that he did." 



THE MESSENGER IS WATCHFUL. 233 

She watched him still attentively. But he watched her 
too ; and he saw that this indication of a knowledge on his 
part, of something that had passed between herself and her 
husband, rankled and smarted in her haughty breast, like a 
poisoned arrow. 

" I do not recall all this to widen the breach between your 
self and Mr. Dombey, Madam Heaven forbid ! what would 
it profit me? but as an example of the hopelessness of 
impressing Mr. Dombey with a sense that anybody is to be 
considered when he is in question. We who are about him, 
have, in our various positions, done our part, I dare say, to 
confirm him in his way of thinking ; but if we had not done 
so, others would or they would not have been about him ; 
and it has always been from the beginning, the very staple 
of his life. Mr. Dombey has had to deal, in short, with none 
but submissive and dependent persons, who have bowed the 
knee, and bent the neck, before him. He has never known 
what it is to have angry pride and strong resentment opposed 
to him." 

" But he will know it now ! " she seemed to say ; though 
her lips did not part, nor her eyes falter. He saw the soft 
down tremble once again, and he saw her lay the plumage of 
the beautiful bird against her bosom for a moment ; and he 
unfolded one more ring of the coil into which he had gathered 
himself. 

" Mr. Dombey, though a most honourable gentleman," he 
said, " is so prone to pervert even facts to his own view, when 
he is at all opposed, in consequence of the warp in his mind, 
that he can I give a better instance than this ! he sincerely 
believes (you will excuse the folly of what I am about to say ; 
it not being mine) that his severe expression of opinion to his 
present wife, on a certain special occasion she may remember, 
before the lamented death of Mrs. Skewton, produced a 
withering effect, and for the moment quite subdued her ! " 

Edith laughed. How harshly and unmusically need not be 
described. It is enough that he was glad to hear her. 



234 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Madam," he resumed, " I have done with this. Your own 
opinions are so strong, and, I am persuaded, so unalterable," 
he repeated those words slowly and with great emphasis, " that 
I am almost afraid to incur your displeasure anew, when I say 
that in spite of these defects and my full knowledge of them, 
I have become habituated to Mr. Dombey, and esteem him. 
But when I say so, it is not, believe me, for the mere sake of 
vaunting a feeling that is so utterly at variance with your own, 
and for which you can have no sympathy" oh how distinct 
and plain and emphasized this was ! " but to give you an 
assurance of the zeal with which, in this unhappy matter, I 
am yours, and the indignation with which I regard the part 
I am required to fill ! " 

She sat as if she were afraid to take her eyes from his face. 

And now to unwind the last ring of the coil ! 

" It is growing late," said Carker, after a pause, " and you 
are, as you said, fatigued. But the second object of this 
interview, I must not forget. I must recommend you, I must 
entreat you in the most earnest manner, for sufficient reasons 
that I have, to be cautious in your demonstrations of regard 
for Miss Dombey." 

" Cautious ! What do you mean ? " 

"To be careful how you exhibit too much affection for 
that young lady." 

" Too much affection, Sir ! " said Edith, knitting her broad 
brow and rising. " Who judges my affection, or measures it 
out? You?" 

" It is not I who do so." He was, or feigned to be, 
perplexed. 

"Who then?" 

" Can you not guess who then ? " 

" I do not choose to guess," she answered. 

" Madam," he said after a little hesitation ; meantime they 
had been, and still were, regarding each other as before ; " I 
am in a difficulty here. You have told me you will receive 
no message, and you have forbidden me to return to that 



AFFECTION FOR MISS DOMBEY. 235 

subject ; but the two subjects are so closely entwined, I find, 
that unless you will accept this vague caution from one who 
has now the honour to possess your confidence, though the 
way to it has been through your displeasure, I must violate 
the injunction you have laid upon me." 

"You know that you are free to do so, Sir, 1 " said Edith. 
" Do it." 

So pale, so trembling, so impassioned ! He had not mis 
calculated the effect then ! 

" His instructions were," he said, in a low voice, " that I 
should inform you that your demeanour towards Miss Dombey 
is not agreeable to him. That it suggests comparisons to him 
which are not favourable to himself. That he desires it may 
be wholly changed ; and that if you are in earnest, he is con 
fident it will be; for your continued show of affection will 
not benefit its object." 

" That is a threat," she said. 

" That is a threat," he answered, in his voiceless manner of 
assent : adding aloud, " but not directed against you" 

Proud, erect, and dignified, as she stood confronting him ; 
and looking through him as she did, with her full bright flash 
ing eye ; and smiling, as she was, with scorn and bitterness ; 
she sunk as if the ground had dropped beneath her, and in 
an instant would have fallen on the floor, but that he caught 
her in his arms. As instantaneously she threw him off, the 
moment that he touched her, and, drawing back, confronted 
him again, immoveable, with her hand stretched out. 

" Please to leave me. Say no more to-night." 

" I feel the urgency of this," said Mr. Carker, " because it 
is impossible to say what unforeseen consequences might arise, 
or how soon, from your being unacquainted with his state 
of mind. I understand Miss Dombey is concerned, now, at 
the dismissal of her old servant, which is likely to have been 
a minor consequence in itself. You don't blame me for re 
questing that Miss Dombey might not be present. May I 
hope so?" 



236 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"I do not. Please to leave me, Sir." 

" I knew that your regard for the young lady, which is very 
sincere and strong, I am well persuaded, would render it a 
great unhappiness to you, ever to be a prey to the reflection 
that you had injured her position and ruined her future 
hopes," said Carker hurriedly, but eagerly. 

" No more to-night. Leave me, if you please." 

"I shall be here constantly in my attendance upon him, 
and in the transaction of business matters. You will allow 
me to see you again, and to consult what should be done, 
and learn your wishes?" 

She motioned him towards the door. 

" I cannot even decide whether to tell him I have spoken 
to you yet; or to lead him to suppose that I have deferred 
doing so, for want of opportunity, or for any other reason. 
It will be necessary that you should enable me to consult with 
you very soon." 

" At any time but now," she answered. 

"You will understand, when I wish to see you, that Miss 
Dombey is not to be present ; and that I seek an interview 
as one who has the happiness to possess your confidence, and 
who comes to render you every assistance in his power, and, 
perhaps, on many occasions, to ward oft' evil from her ? " 

Looking at him still with the same apparent dread of 
releasing him for a moment from the influence of her steady 
gaze, whatever that might be, she answered, " Yes ! " and 
once more bade him go. 

He bowed, as if in compliance ; but turning back, when he 
had nearly reached the door, said : 

" I am forgiven, and have explained my fault. May I for 
Miss Dombey's sake, and for my own take your hand before 
I go?" 

She gave him the gloved hand she had maimed last night. 
He took it in one of his, and kissed it, and withdrew. And 
when he had closed the door, he waved the hand with which 
he had taken hers, and thrust it in his breast. 



CHAPTER XLVI. 

RECOGNIZANT AND REFLECTIVE. 

AMOXG sundry minor alterations in Mr. Corker's life and 
habits that began to take place at this time, none was more 
remarkable than the extraordinary diligence with which he 
applied himself to business, and the closeness with which he 
investigated every detail that the affairs of the House laid 
open to him. Always active and penetrating in such matters, 
his lynx-eyed vigilance now increased twenty-fold. Not only 
did his weary watch keep pace with every present point that 
every day presented to him in some new form, but in the 
midst of these engrossing occupations he found leisure that is, 
he made it to review the past transactions of the Firm, and 
his share in them, during a long series of years. Frequently 
when the clerks were all gone, the offices dark and empty, and 
all similar places of business shut up, Mr. Carker, with the 
whole anatomy of the iron room laid bare before him, would 
explore the mysteries of books and papers, with the patient 
progress of a man who was dissecting the minutest nerves 
and fibres of his subject. Perch, the messenger, who usually 
remained on these occasions, to entertain himself with the 
perusal of the Price Current by the light of one candle, or to 
doze over the fire in the outer office, at the imminent risk 
every moment of diving head foremost into the coal-box, 
could not withhold the tribute of his admiration from this 
zealous conduct, although it much contracted his domestic 
enjoyments; and again, and again, expatiated to Mrs. Perch 



238 DOMBEY AND SON. 

(now nursing twins) on the industry and acuteness of their 
managing gentleman in the City. 

The same increased and sharp attention that Mr. Carker 
bestowed on the business of the House, he applied to his own 
personal affairs. Though not a partner in the concern a 
distinction hitherto reserved solely to inheritors of the great 
name of Dombey he was in the receipt of some per centage 
on its dealings ; and, participating in all its facilities for the 
employment of money to advantage, was considered, by the 
minnows among the tritons of the East, a rich man. It 
began to be said, among these shrewd observers, that Jem 
Carker, of Dombey's, was looking about him to see what he 
was worth ; and that he was calling in his money at a good 
time, like the long-headed fellow he was ; and bets were even 
offered on the Stock Exchange that Jem was going to many 
a rich widow. 

Yet these cares did not in the least interfere with Mr. 
Carker's watching of his chief, or with his cleanness, neatness, 
sleekness, or any cat-like quality he possessed. It was not so 
much that there was a change in him, in reference to any of 
his habits, as that the whole man was intensified. Everything 
that had been observable in him before, was observable now, 
but with a greater amount of concentration. He did each 
single thing, as if he did nothing else a pretty certain indi 
cation in a man of that range of ability and purpose, that he 
is doing something which sharpens and keeps alive his keenest 
powers. 

The only decided alteration in him was, that as he rode 
to and fro along the streets, he would fall into deep fits 
of musing, like that in which he had come away from Mr. 
Dombey's house, on the morning of that gentleman's disaster. 
At such times, he would keep clear of the obstacles in his 
way, mechanically ; and would appear to see and hear nothing 
until arrival at his destination, or some sudden chance or 
effort roused him. 

Walking his white-legged horse thus, to the counting-house 



MR. CAREER CLOSELY OBSERVED. 239 

of Dombey and Son one day, he was as unconscious of the 
observation of two pairs of women's eyes, as of the fascinated 
orbs of Rob the Grinder, who, in waiting a street's length 
from the appointed place, as a demonstration of punctuality, 
vainly touched and retouched his hat to attract attention, and 
trotted along on foot, by his master's side, prepared to hold 
his stirrup when he should alight. 

" See where he goes ! " cried one of these two women, an 
old creature, who stretched out her shrivelled arm to point 
him out to her companion, a young woman, who stood close 
beside her, withdrawn like herself into a gateway. 

Mrs. Brown's daughter looked out, at this bidding on the 
part of Mrs. Brown ; and there were wrath and vengeance in 
her face. 

" I never thought to look at him again," she said, in a low 
voice ; " but it's well I should, perhaps. I see. I see ! " 

" Not changed ! " said the old woman, with a look of eager 
malice. 

"He changed!" returned the other. "What for? What 
has lie suffered ? There is change enough for twenty in rne. 
Isn't that enough?" 

" See where he goes ! " muttered the old woman, watching 
her daughter with her red eyes; "so easy and so trim, 
a-horseback, while we are in the mud " 

"And of it," said her daughter impatiently. "We are 
mud, underneath his horse's feet. What should we be ? " 

In the intentness with which she looked after him again, 
she made a hasty gesture with her hand when the old woman 
began to reply, as if her view could be obstructed by mere 
sound. Her mother watching her, and not him, remained 
silent; until her kindling glance subsided, and she drew a 
long breath, as if in the relief of his being gone. 

" Deary ! " said the old woman then. " Alice ! Handsome 
gal ! Ally ! " She gently shook her sleeve to arouse her atten 
tion. "Will you let him go like that, when you can wring 
money from him ? Why, it's a wickedness, my daughter." 



240 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Haven't I told you, that I will not have money from 
him ? " she returned. " And don't you yet believe me ? Did 
I take his sister's money ? Would I touch a penny, if I knew 
it, that had gone through his white hands unless it was, 
indeed, that I could poison it, and send it back to him ? 
Peace, mother, and come away." 

" And him so rich ? " murmured the old woman. " And 
us so poor ! " 

" Poor in not being able to pay him any of the harm we 
owe him," returned her daughter. "Let him give me that 
sort of riches, and I'll take them from him, and use them. 
Come away. It's no good looking at his horse. Come away, 
mother ! " 

But the old woman, for whom the spectacle of Rob the 
Grinder returning down the street, leading the riderless horse, 
appeared to have some extraneous interest that it did not 
possess in itself, surveyed that young man with the utmost 
earnestness ; and seeming to have whatever doubts she enter 
tained, resolved as he drew nearer, glanced at her daughter 
with brightened eyes and with her finger on her lip, and 
emerging from the gateway at the moment of his passing, 
touched him on the shoulder. 

" Why, where's my sprightly Rob been, all this time ! " she 
said, as he turned round. 

The sprightly Rob, whose sprightliness was very much 
diminished by the salutation, looked exceedingly dismayed, 
and said, with the water rising in his eyes : 

" Oh ! why can't you leave a poor cove alone, Misses Brown, 
when he's getting an honest livelihood and conducting himself 
respectable ? What do you come and deprive a cove of his 
character for, by talking to him in the streets, when he's taking 
his master's horse to a honest stable a horse you'd go and 
sell for cats' and dogs' meat if you had your way ! Why, I 
thought," said the Grinder, producing his concluding remark 
as if it were the climax of all his injuries, " that you was dead 
long ago ! " 



INGRATITUDE OF THE GRINDER. 241 

" This is the way,*" cried the old woman, appealing to her 
daughter, " that he talks to me, who knew him weeks and 
months together, my deary, and have stood his friend many 
and many a time among the pigeon-fancying tramps and bird- 
catchers." 

" Let the birds be, will you, Misses Brown ? " retorted Rob, 
in a tone of the acutest anguish. " I think a cove had better 
have to do with lions than them little creeturs, for they're 
always flying back in your face when you least expect it. 
Well, how d'ye do and what do you want?" These polite 
inquiries the Grinder uttered, as it were under protest, and 
with great exasperation and vindictiveness. 

" Hark how he speaks to an old friend, my deary ! " said 
Mrs. Brown, again appealing to her daughter. " But there's 
some of his old friends not so patient as me. If I was to tell 
some that he knows, and has sported and cheated with, where 
to find him " 

" Will you hold your tongue, Misses Brown ? " interrupted 
the miserable Grinder, glancing quickly round, as though he 
expected to see his master's teeth shining at his elbow. 
" What do you take a pleasure in ruining a cove for ? At 
your time of life too ! when you ought to be thinking of a 
variety of things ! " 

" What a gallant horse ! " said the old woman, patting the 
animal's neck. 

" Let him alone, will you, Misses Brown ? " cried Rob, 
pushing away her hand. " You're enough to drive a penitent 
cove mad ! " 

" Why, what hurt do I do him, child ? " returned the old 
woman. 

" Hurt ? " said Rob. " He's got a master that would find it 
out if he was touched with a straw." And he blew upon the 
place where the old woman's hand had rested for a moment, 
and smoothed it gently with his finger, as if he seriously 
believed what he said. 

The old woman looking back to mumble and mouth at her 

VOL. n. R 



DOMBEY AND SON. 

daughter, who followed, kept close to Rob's heels as he 
walked on with the bridle in his hand; and pursued the 
conversation. 

" A good place, Rob, eh ? " said she. " You're in luck, my 
child." 

"Oh don't talk about luck, Misses Brown," returned the 
wretched Grinder, facing round and stopping. " If you'd never 
come, or if you'd go away, then indeed a cove might be con 
sidered tolerably lucky. Can't you go along, Misses Brown, 
and not foller me ! " blubbered Rob, with sudden defiance. 
" If the young woman's a friend of yours, why don't she take 
you away, instead of letting you make yourself so disgraceful ! " 

" What ! " croaked the old woman, putting her face close to 
his, with a malevolent grin upon it that puckered up the loose 
skin down in her very throat. " Do you deny your old chum ! 
Have you lurked to my house fifty times, and slept sound in 
a corner when you had no other bed but the paving-stones, 
and do you talk to me like this ! Have I bought and sold with 
you, and helped you in my way of business, schoolboy, sneak, 
and what not, and do you tell me to go along ! Could I raise 
a crowd of old company about you to-morrow morning, that 
would follow you to ruin like copies of your own shadow, and 
do you turn on me with your bold looks ! I'll go. Come, 
Alice." 

" Stop, Misses Brown ! " cried the distracted Grinder. " What 
are you doing of ? Don't put yourself in a passion ! Don't 
let her go, if you please. I haven't meant any offence. I said 
'how d'ye do,' at first, didn't I? But you wouldn't answer. 
How do you do ? Besides," said Rob piteously, " look here ! 
How can a cove stand talking in the street with his master's 
prad a wanting to be took to be rubbed down, and his 
master up to every individgle thing that happens ! " 

The old woman made a show of being partially appeased, 
but shook her head, and mouthed and muttered still. 

" Come along to the stables, and have a glass of something 
that's good for you, Misses Brown, can't you?" said Rob. 



DRINKING MR. CAREER'S HEALTH. 243 

" instead of going on, like that, which is no good to you, nor 
anybody else ? Come along with her, will you be so kind ? " 
said Rob. " I'm sure I'm delighted to see her, if it wasn't for 
the horse! 1 ' 

With this apology, Rob turned away, a rueful picture of 
despair, and walked his charge down a bye-street. The old 
woman, mouthing at her daughter, followed close upon him. 
The daughter followed. 

Turning into a silent little square or court-yard that had 
a great church tower rising above it, and a packer's warehouse, 
and a bottle-maker's warehouse, for its places of business, Rob 
the Grinder delivered the white-legged horse to the hostler 
of a quaint stable at the corner ; and inviting Mrs. Brown and 
her daughter to seat themselves upon a stone bench at the 
gate of that establishment, soon reappeared from a neighbour 
ing public-house with a pewter measure and a glass. 

" Here's master Mr. Carker, child ! " said the old woman, 
slowly, as her sentiment before drinking. " Lord bless him ! " 

" Why, 1 didn't tell you who he was ? " observed Rob, with 
staring eyes. 

" We know him by sight," said Mrs. Brown, whose working 
mouth and nodding head stopped for the moment, in the 
fixedness of her attention. " We saw him pass this morning, 
afore he got off his horse ; when you were ready to take it." 

"Aye, aye?" returned Rob, appearing to wish that his 
readiness had carried him to any other place. " What's the 
matter with her ? Won't she drink ? " 

This inquiry had reference to Alice, who, folded in her cloak, 
sat a little apart profoundly inattentive to his offer of the 
replenished glass. 

The old woman shook her head. "Don't mind her," she 
said ; " she's a strange creetur, if you know'd her, Rob. But 
Mr. Carker" 

" Hush ! " said Rob, glancing cautiously up at the packer's, 
and at the bottle-maker's, as if, from any one of the tiers of 
warehouses, Mr. Carker might be looking down. " Softly." 



244 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Why, he ain't here ! " cried Mrs. Brown. 

"I don't know that, 11 muttered Rob, whose glance even 
wandered to the church tower, as if he might be there, with 
a supernatural power of hearing. 

"Good master? 11 inquired Mrs. Brown. 

Rob nodded ; and added, in a low voice, " precious sharp/ 1 

"Lives out of town, don't he, lovey? 11 said the old 
woman. 

"When he's at home, 1 " returned Rob; "but we don't live 
at home just now. 11 

" Where then ? " asked the old woman. 

" Lodgings ; up near Mr. Dombey's, 11 returned Rob. 

The younger woman fixed her eyes so searchingly upon 
him, and so suddenly, that Rob was quite confounded, and 
offered the glass again, but with no more effect upon her 
than before. 

"Mr. Dombey you and I used to talk about him, some 
times, you know, 11 said Rob to Mrs. Brown. " You used to 
get me to talk about him. 11 

The old woman nodded. 

"Well, Mr. Dombey, he's had a fall from his horse, 11 said 
Rob, unwillingly ; " and my master has to be up there, more 
than usual, either with him, or Mrs. Dombey, or some of 
'em ; and so weVe come to town. 11 

"Are they good friends, lovey? 11 asked the old woman. 

"Who? 11 retorted Rob. 

He and she? 11 

" What, Mr. and Mrs. Dombey ? " said Rob. " How should 
/know!" 

"Not them Master and Mrs. Dombey, chick, 11 replied the 
old woman, coaxingly. 

"I don't know, 11 said Rob, looking round him again. "I 
suppose so. How curious you are, Misses Brown ! Least 
said, soonest mended. 11 

" Why there's no harm in it ! " exclaimed the old woman, 
with a laugh, and a clap of her hands. "Sprightly Rob 



A PET AND FAVOURITE 245 

has grown tame since he has been well off! There's no 
harm in it." 

"No, there's no harm in it, I know," returned Rob, with 
the same distrustful glance at the packer's and the bottle- 
maker's, and the church ; " but blabbing, if it's only about 
the number of buttons on my master's coat, won't do. I 
tell you it won't do with him. A cove had better drown 
himself. He says so. I shouldn't have so much as told you 
what his name was, if you hadn't known it. Talk about 
somebody else." 

As Rob took another cautious survey of the yard, the old 
woman made a secret motion to her daughter. It was 
momentary, but the daughter, with a slight look of intelli 
gence, withdrew her eyes from the boy's face, and sat folded 
in her cloak as before. 

" Rob, lovey ! " said the old woman, beckoning him to 
the other end of the bench. " You were always a pet and 
favourite of mine. Now, weren't you ? Don't you know you 
were ? " 

"Yes, Misses Brown," replied the Grinder, with a very 
bad grace. 

" And you could leave me ! " said the old woman, fling 
ing her arms about his neck. "You could go away, and 
grow almost out of knowledge, and never come to tell 
your poor old friend how fortunate you were, proud lad ! 
Oho, Oho!" 

"Oh here's a dreadful go for a cove that's got a master 
wide awake in the neighbourhood ! " exclaimed the wretched 
Grinder. " To be howled over like this here ! " 

" Won't you come and see me, Robby ? " cried Mrs. Brown. 
" Oho, won't you ever come and see me ? " 

" Yes, I tell you ! Yes, I will ! " returned the Grinder. 

" That's my own Rob ! That's my lovey ! " said Mrs. 
Brown, drying the tears upon her shrivelled face, and giving 
him a tender squeeze. "At the old place, Rob?" 

" Yes," replied the Grinder. 



246 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Soon, Robby dear ? " cried Mrs. Brown ; " and often ? " 

" Yes. Yes. Yes," replied Rob. " I will indeed, upon my 
soul and body." 

"And then," said Mrs. Brown, with her arms uplifted 
towards the sky, and her head thrown back and shaking, 
"if he's true to his word, I'll never come a-near him, though 
I know where he is, and never breathe a syllable about him ! 
Never ! " 

This ejaculation seemed a drop of comfort to the miserable 
Grinder, who shook Mrs. Brown by the hand upon it, and 
implored her with tears in his eyes to leave a cove and 
not destroy his prospects. Mrs. Brown, with another fond 
embrace, assented ; but in the act of following her daughter, 
turned back, with her finger stealthily raised, and asked in 
a hoarse whisper for some money. 

"A shilling, dear!" she said, with her eager avaricious 
face, " or sixpence . f For old acquaintance sake. I'm so poor. 
And my handsome gal" looking over her shoulder "she's 
my gal, Rob half starves me." 

But as the reluctant Grinder put it in her hand, her 
daughter, coming quietly back, caught the hand in hers, and 
twisted out the coin. 

" What," she said, " mother ! always money ! money from 
the first, and to the last. Do you mind so little what I 
said but now ? Here. Take it ! " 

The old woman uttered a moan as the money was restored, 
but without in any other way opposing its restoration, 
hobbled at her daughter's side out of the yard, and along 
the bye street-upon which it opened. The astonished and 
dismayed Rob staring after them, saw that they stopped, 
and fell to earnest conversation very soon ; and more than 
once observed a darkly threatening action of the younger 
woman's hand (obviously having reference to some one of 
whom they spoke), and a crooning feeble imitation of it on 
the part of Mrs. Brown, that made him earnestly hope he 
might not be the subject of their discourse. 



MR. CAREER IN A THOUGHTFUL MOOD. 247 

With the present consolation that they were gone, and 
with the prospective comfort that Mrs. Brown could not live 
for ever, and was not likely to live long to trouble him, the 
Grinder, not otherwise regretting his misdeeds than as they 
were attended with such disagreeable incidental consequences, 
composed his ruffled features to a more serene expression by 
thinking of the admirable manner in which he had disposed 
of Captain Cuttle (a reflection that seldom failed to put 
him in a flow of spirits), and went to the Dombey Counting 
House to receive his master's orders. 

There his master, so subtle and vigilant of eye, that Rob 
quaked before him, more than half expecting to be taxed 
with Mrs. Brown, gave him the usual morning's box of papers 
for Mr. Dombey, and a note for Mrs. Dombey: merely 
nodding his head as an enjoinder to be careful, and to use 
dispatch a mysterious admonition, fraught in the Grinder's 
imagination with dismal warnings and threats; and more 
powerful with him than any words. 

Alone again, in his own room, Mr. Carker applied himself 
to work, and worked all day. He saw many visitors; 
overlooked a number of documents ; went in and out, to and 
from, sundry places of mercantile resort ; and indulged in no 
more abstraction until the day's business was done. But, 
when the usual clearance of papers from his table was made 
at last, he fell into his thoughtful mood once more. 

He was standing in his accustomed place and attitude, with 
his eyes intently fixed upon the ground, when his brother 
entered to bring back some letters that had been taken out 
in the course of the day. He put them quietly on the table, 
and was going immediately, when Mr. Carker the Manager, 
whose eyes had rested on him, on his entrance, as if they had 
all this time had him for the subject of their contemplation, 
instead of the office-floor, said : 

" Well, John Carker, and what brings you here ? " 

His brother pointed to the letters, and was again with 
drawing. 



248 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"I wonder," said the Manager, "that you can come and 
go, without inquiring how our master is." 

"We had word this morning in the counting-house, that 
Mr. Dombey was doing well," replied his brother. 

"You are such a meek fellow, 1 ' said the Manager, with a 
smile, "but you have grown so, in the course of years 
that if any harm came to him, you'd be miserable, I dare 
swear now." 

"I should be truly sorry, James," returned the other. 

" He would be sorry ! " said the Manager, pointing at 
him, as if there were some other person present to whom 
he was appealing. " He would be truly sorry ! This brother 
of mine ! This junior of the place, this slighted piece of 
lumber, pushed aside with his face to the wall, like a rotten 
picture, and left so, for Heaven knows how many years : lie's 
all gratitude and respect, and devotion too, he would have 
me believe ! " 

"I would have you believe nothing, James," returned the 
other. "Be as just to me as you would to any other man 
below you. You ask a question, and I answer it." 

"And have you nothing, Spaniel," said the Manager, with 
unusual irascibility, " to complain of in him ? No proud 
treatment to resent, no insolence, no foolery of state, no 
exaction of any sort ! What the devil ! are you man or 
mouse ? " 

" It would be strange if any two persons could be together 
for so many years, especially as superior and inferior, without 
each having something to complain of in the other as he 
thought, at all events," replied John Carker. "But apart 
from my history here " 

" His history here ! " exclaimed the Manager. " Why, there 
it is. The very fact that makes him an extreme case, puts 
him out of the whole chapter ! Well ? " 

"Apart from that, which, as you hint, gives me a reason 
to be thankful that I alone (happily for all the rest) possess, 
surely there is no one in the House who would not say and 



BROTHERLY DISCOURSE. 249 

feel at least as much. You do not think that anybody here 
would be indifferent to a mischance or misfortune happening 
to the head of the House, or anything than truly sorry for it ? " 
" You have good reason to be bound to him too ! " said 
the Manager, contemptuously. " Why, don't you believe that 
you are kept here, as a cheap example, and a famous instance 
of the clemency of Dombey and Son, redounding to the 
credit of the illustrious House ? " 

"No," replied his brother, mildly, "I have long believed 

that I am kept here for more kind and disinterested reasons." 

"But you were going," said the Manager, with the snarl 

of a tiger-cat, " to recite some Christian precept, I observed." 

"Nay, James," returned the other, "though the tie of 

brotherhood between us has been long broken and thrown 

away " 

" Who broke it, good Sir ? " said the Manager. 
" I, by my misconduct. I do not charge it upon you." 
The Manager replied, with that mute action of his bristling 
mouth, " Oh, you don't charge it upon me ! " and bade him 
go on. 

"I say, though there is not that tie between us, do not, 
I entreat, assail me with unnecessary taunts, or misinterpret 
what I say, or would say. I was only going to suggest to 
you that it would be a mistake to suppose that it is only 
you, who have been selected here, above all others, for 
advancement, confidence and distinction (selected, in the 
beginning, I know, for your great ability and trustfulness), 
and who communicate more freely with Mr. Dombey than 
any one, and stand, it may be said, on equal terms with 
him, and have been favoured and enriched by him that it 
would be a mistake to suppose that it is only you who are 
tender of his welfare and reputation. There is no one in the 
House, from yourself down to the lowest, I sincerely believe, 
who does not participate in that feeling." 

" You lie ! " said the Manager, red with sudden anger. 
" You're a hypocrite, John Carker, and you lie." 



250 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"James! 11 cried the other, flushing in his turn. "What 
do you mean by these insulting words ? Why do you so 
basely use them to me, unprovoked ? " 

" I tell you, 11 said the Manager, " that your hypocrisy and 
meekness that all the hypocrisy and meekness of this place 
is not worth that to me," snapping his thumb and finger, 
"and that I see through it as if it were air! There is not 
a man employed here, standing between myself and the 
lowest in place (of whom you are very considerate, and with 
reason, for he is not far off), who wouldn^ be glad at heart 
to see his master humbled : who does not hate him, secretly : 
who does not wish him evil rather than good : and who would 
not turn upon him, if he had the power and boldness. The 
nearer to his favour, the nearer to his insolence; the closer 
to him, the farther from him. That's the creed here ! " 

" I don't know, 11 said his brother, whose roused feelings had 
soon yielded to surprise, "who may have abused your ear 
with such representations; or why you have chosen to try 
me, rather than another. But that you have been trying 
me, and tampering with me, I am now sure. You have a 
different manner and a different aspect from any that I ever 
saw in you. I will only say to you, once more, you are 
deceived. 11 

"I know I am, 11 said the Manager. "I have told you so. 1 ' 

" Not by me, 11 returned his brother. " By your informant, if 
you have one. If not, by your own thoughts and suspicions. 11 

"I have no suspicions," said the Manager. "Mine are 
certainties. You pusillanimous, abject, cringing dogs ! All 
making the same show, all canting the same story, all 
whining the same professions, all harbouring the same trans 
parent secret. 11 

His brother withdrew, without saying more, and shut the 
door as he concluded. Mr. Carker the Manager drew a 
chair close before the fire, and fell to beating the coals softly 
with the poker. 

"The faint-hearted, fawning knaves, 11 he muttered, with 



A DEEP REVERIE. 251 

his two shining rows of teeth laid bare. "There's not one 
among them, who wouldn't feign to be so shocked and 
outraged ! Bah ! There's not one among them, but if he 
had at once the power, and the wit and daring to use it, 
would scatter Dombey's pride and lay it low, as ruthlessly 
as I rake out these ashes. " 

As he broke them up and strewed them in the grate, he 
looked on with a thoughtful smile at what he was doing. 
" Without the same queen beckoner too ! " he added presently ; 
"and there is pride there, not to be forgotten witness our 
own acquaintance ! " With that he fell into a deeper reverie, 
and sat pondering over the blackening grate, until he rose 
up like a man who had been absorbed in a book, and looking 
round him took his hat and gloves, went to where his horse 
was waiting, mounted, and rode away through the lighted 
streets, for it was evening. 

He rode near Mr. Dombey's house ; and falling into a walk 
as he approached it, looked up at the windows. The window 
where he had once seen Florence sitting with her dog, 
attracted his attention first, though there was no light in 
it ; but he smiled as he carried his eyes up the tall front 
of the house, and seemed to leave that object superciliously 
behind. 

"Time was, 11 he said, "when it was well to watch even 
your rising little star, and know in what quarter there were 
clouds, to shadow you if needful. But a planet has arisen, 
and you are lost in its light. 11 

He turned the white-legged horse round the street corner, 
and sought one shining window from among those at the 
back of the house. Associated with it was a certain stately 
presence, a gloved hand, the remembrance how the feathers 
of a beautiful bird's wing had been showered down upon the 
floor, and how the light white down upon a robe had stirred 
and rustled, as in the rising of a distant storm. These were the 
things he carried with him as he turned away again, and rode 
through the darkening and deserted Parks at a quick rate. 



252 DOMBEY AND SON. 

In fatal truth, these were associated with a woman, a proud 
woman, who hated him, but Avho by slow and sure degrees 
had been led on by his craft, and her pride and resentment, 
to endure his company, and little by little to receive him 
as one who had the privilege to talk to her of her own 
defiant disregard of her own husband, and her abandonment 
of high consideration for herself. They were associated with 
a woman who hated him deeply, and who knew him, and 
who mistrusted him because she knew him, and because he 
knew her; but who fed her fierce resentment by suffering 
him to draw nearer and yet nearer to her every day, in 
spite of the hate she cherished for him. In spite of it ! 
For that very reason ; since its depths, too far down for her 
threatening eye to pierce, though she could see into them 
dimly, lay the dark retaliation, whose faintest shadow seen 
once and shuddered at, and never seen again, would have 
been sufficient stain upon her soul. 

Did the phantom of such a woman flit about him on his 
ride ; true to the reality, and obvious to him ? 

Yes. He saw her in his mind, exactly as she was. She 
bore him company with her pride, resentment, hatred, all as 
plain to him as her beauty ; with nothing plainer to him 
than her hatred of him. He saw her sometimes haughty and 
repellent at his side, and sometimes down among his horse's 
feet, fallen and in the dust. But he always saw her as she 
was, without disguise, and watched her on the dangerous way 
that she was going. 

And when his ride was over, and he was newly dressed, and 
came into the light of her bright room with his bent head, 
soft voice, and soothing smile, he saw her yet as plainly. He 
even suspected the mystery of the gloved hand, and held it 
all the longer in his own for that suspicion. Upon the 
dangerous way that she was going, he was still ; and not a 
footprint did she mark upon it, but he set his own there, 
straight. 



CHAPTER XLVII. 

THE THUNDERBOLT. 

THE barrier between Mr. Dombey and his wife was not weak 
ened by time. Ill-assorted couple, unhappy in themselves and 
in each other, bound together by no tie but the manacle 
that joined their fettered hands, and straining that so harshly, 
in their shrinking asunder, that it wore and chafed to the 
bone, Time, consoler of affliction and softener of anger, could 
do nothing to help them. Their pride, however different in 
kind and object, was equal in degree; and, in their flinty 
opposition, struck out fire between them which might 
smoulder or might blaze, as circumstances were, but burned 
up everything within their mutual reach, and made their 
marriage way a road of ashes. 

Let us be just to him : In the monstrous delusion of his 
life, swelling with every grain of sand that shifted in its 
glass, he urged her on, he little thought to what, or con 
sidered how; but still his feeling towards her, such as it 
was, remained as at first. She had the grand demerit of 
unaccountably putting herself in opposition to the recognition 
of his vast importance, and to the acknowledgment of her 
complete submission to it, and so far it was necessary to 
correct and reduce her; but otherwise he still considered her, 
in his cold way, a lady capable of doing honour, if she would, 
to his choice and name, and of reflecting credit on his pro 
prietorship. 



254 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Now, she, with all her might of passionate and proud 
resentment, bent her dark glance from day to day, and hour 
to hour from that night in her own chamber, when she 
had sat gazing at the shadows on the wall, to the deeper 
night fast coming upon one figure directing a crowd of 
humiliations and exasperations against her; and that figure, 
still her husband's. 

Was Mr. Dombey's master-vice, that ruled him so inexor 
ably, an unnatural characteristic? It might be worth while, 
sometimes, to inquire what Nature is, and how men work 
to change her, and whether, in the enforced distortions so 
produced, it is not natural to be unnatural. Coop any son 
or daughter of our mighty mother within narrow range, and 
bind the prisoner to one idea, and foster it by servile worship 
of it on the part of the few timid or designing people standing 
round, and what is Nature to the willing captive who has 
never risen up upon the wings of a free mind drooping and 
useless soon to see her in her comprehensive truth ! 

Alas ! are there so few things in the world, about us, most 
unnatural, and yet most natural in being so ! Hear the 
magistrate or judge admonish the unnatural outcasts of 
society; unnatural in brutal habits, unnatural in want of 
decency, unnatural in losing and confounding all distinctions 
between good and evil ; unnatural in ignorance, in vice, in 
recklessness, in contumacy, in mind, in looks, in everything. 
But follow the good clergyman or doctor, who, with his life 
imperilled at every breath he draAvs, goes down into their 
dens, lying within the echoes of our carriage wheels and daily 
tread upon the pavement stones. Look round upon the world 
of odious sights millions of immortal creatures have no other 
world on earth at the lightest mention of which humanity 
revolts, and dainty delicacy living in the next street, stops 
her ears, and lisps " I don't believe it ! " Breathe the polluted 
air, foul with every impurity that is poisonous to health and 
life; and have every sense, conferred upon our race for its 
delight and happiness, offended, sickened and disgusted, and 



UNNATURAL HUMANITY! 255 

made a channel by which misery and death alone can enter. 
Vainly attempt to think of any simple plant, or flower, or 
wholesome weed, that, set in this foetid bed, could have its 
natural growth, or put its little leaves off to the sun as GOD 
designed it. And then, calling up some ghastly child, with 
stunted form and wicked face, hold forth on its unnatural 
sinfulness, and lament its being, so early, far away from 
Heaven but think a little of its having been conceived, and 
born and bred, in Hell ! 

Those who study the physical sciences, and bring them to 
bear upon the health of Man, tell us that if the noxious 
particles that rise from vitiated air were palpable to the sight, 
we should see them lowering in a dense black cloud above 
such haunts, and rolling slowly on to corrupt the better 
portions of a town. But if the moral pestilence that rises 
with them, and in the eternal laws of outraged Nature, is 
inseparable from them, could be made discernible too, how 
terrible the revelation ! Then should we see depravity, im 
piety, drunkenness, theft, murder, and a long train of nameless 
sins against the natural affections and repulsions of mankind, 
overhanging the devoted spots, and creeping on, to blight 
the innocent and spread contagion among the pure. Then 
should we see how the same poisoned fountains that flow into 
our hospitals and lazar-houses, inundate the jails, and make 
the convict-ships swim deep, and roll across the seas, and 
over-run vast continents with crime. Then should we stand 
appalled to know, that where we generate disease to strike 
our children down and entail itself on unborn generations, 
there also we breed, by the same certain process, infancy 
that knows no innocence, youth without modesty or shame, 
maturity that is mature in nothing but in suffering and guilt, 
blasted old age that is a scandal on the form we bear. Un 
natural humanity ! When we shall gather grapes from thorns, 
and figs from thistles ; when fields of grain shall spring up 
from the offal in the bye-ways of our wicked cities, and 
roses bloom in the fat churchyards that they cherish; then 



256 DOMBEY AND SON. 

we may look for natural humanity and find it growing from 
such seed. 

Oh for a good spirit who would take the house-tops off, 
with a more potent and benignant hand than the lame demon 
in the tale, and show a Christian people what dark shapes 
issue from amidst their homes, to swell the retinue of the 
Destroying Angel as he moves forth among them ! For only 
one night's view of the pale phantoms rising from the scenes 
of our too-long neglect ; and from the thick and sullen air 
where Vice and Fever propagate together, raining the tremen 
dous social retributions which are ever pouring down, and ever 
coming thicker! Bright and blest the morning that should 
rise on such a night : for men, delayed no more by stumbling- 
blocks of then: own making, which are but specks of dust 
upon the path between them and eternity, would then apply 
themselves, like creatures of one common origin, owing one 
duty to the Father of one family, and tending to one common 
end, to make the world a better place ! 

Not the less bright and blest would that day be for 
rousing some who never have looked out upon the world of 
human life around them, to a knowledge of their own relation 
to it, and for making them acquainted with a perversion of 
nature in their own contracted sympathies and estimates ; 
as great, and yet as natural in its development when once 
begun, as the lowest degradation known. 

But no such day had ever dawned on Mr. Dombey, or his 
wife ; and the course of each was taken. 

Through six months that ensued upon his accident, they 
held the same relations one towards the other. A marble 
rock could not have stood more obdurately in his way than 
she; and no chilled spring, lying uncheered by any ray of 
light in the depths of a deep cave, could be more sullen or 
more cold than he. 

The hope that had fluttered within her when the promise 
of her new home dawned, was quite gone from the heart of 
Florence now. That home was nearly two years old; and 



CHERISHED MEMORIES. 257 

even the patient trust that was in her, could not survive the 
daily blight of such experience. If she had any lingering 
fancy in the nature of hope left, that Edith and her father 
might be happier together, in some distant time, she had 
none, now, that her father would ever love her. The little 
interval in which she had imagined that she saw some small 
relenting in him, was forgotten in the long remembrance of 
his coldness since and before, or only remembered as a 
sorrowful delusion. 

Florence loved him still, but, by degrees, had come to love 
him rather as some dear one who had been, or who might 
have been, than as the hard reality before her eyes. Some 
thing of the softened sadness with which she loved the 
memory of little Paul, or of her mother, seemed to enter 
now into her thoughts of him, and to make them, as it 
were, a dear remembrance. Whether it was that he was dead 
to her, and that partly for this reason, partly for his share 
in those old objects of her affection, and partly for the long 
association of him with hopes that were withered and tender 
nesses he had frozen, she could not have told ; but the father 
whom she loved began to be a vague and dreamy idea to 
her: hardly more substantially connected with her real life, 
than the image she would sometimes conjure up, of her dear 
brother yet alive, and growing to be a man, who would 
protect and cherish her. 

The change, if it may be called one, had stolen on her 
like the change from childhood to womanhood, and had 
come with it. Florence was almost seventeen, when, in her 
lonely musings, she was conscious of these thoughts. 

She was often alone now, for the old association between 
her and her mama was greatly changed. At the time of her 
father's accident, and when he was lying in his room down 
stairs, Florence had first observed that Edith avoided her. 
Wounded and shocked, and yet unable to reconcile this with 
her affection when they did meet, she sought her in her own 
room at night, once more. 

VOL. II. 5 



258 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Mama," said Florence, stealing softly to her side, "have 
I offended you?" 

Edith answered "No." 

"I must have done something,"" said Florence. "Tell me 
what it is. You have changed your manner to me, dear 
Mama. I cannot say how instantly I feel the least change; 
for I love you with my whole heart." 

"As I do you," said Edith. "Ah, Florence, believe me 
never more than now ! " 

"Why do you go away from me so often, and keep 
away ? " asked Florence. " And why do you sometimes 
look so strangely on me, dear Mama ? You do so, do 
you not?" 

Edith signified assent with her dark eyes. 

"Why?" returned Florence imploringly. "Tell me why, 
that I may know how to please you better; and tell me 
this shall not be so any more." 

"My Florence," answered Edith, taking the hand that 
embraced her neck, and looking into the eyes that looked 
into hers so lovingly, as Florence knelt upon the ground 
before her; "why it is, I cannot tell you. It is neither for 
me to say, nor you to hear ; but that it is, and that it must 
be, I know. Should I do it if I did not?" 

" Are we to be estranged. Mama ? " asked Florence, gazing 
at her like one frightened. 

Edith's silent lips formed " Yes." 

Florence looked at her with increasing fear and wonder, 
until she could see her no more through the blinding tears 
that ran down her face. 

" Florence ! my life ! " said Edith, hurriedly, " listen to me. 
I cannot bear to see this grief. Be calmer. You see that 
I am composed, and is it nothing to me?" 

She resumed her steady voice and manner as she said the 
latter words, and added presently : 

"Not wholly estranged. Partially: and only that, in 
appearance, Florence, for in my own breast I am still the 



AN OUTWARD CHANGE ONLY. 259 

same to you, and ever will be. But what I do is not done 
for myself." 

"Is it for me, Mama?" asked Florence. 

" It is enough," said Edith, after a pause, " to know what 
it is; why, matters little. Dear Florence, it is better it is 
necessary it must be that our association should be less 
frequent. The confidence there has been between us must be 
broken off." 

"When?" cried Florence. "Oh, Mama, when?" 

"Now," said Edith. 

"For all time to come?" asked Florence. 

"I do not say that," answered Edith. "I do not know 
that. Nor will I say that companionship between us is, 
at the best, an ill-assorted and unholy union, of which I 
might have known no good could come. My way here has 
been through paths that you will never tread, and my way 
henceforth may lie God knows I do not see it " 

Her voice died away into silence ; and she sat, looking at 
Florence, and almost shrinking from her, with the same 
strange dread and wild avoidance that Florence had noticed 
once before. The same dark pride and rage succeeded, 
sweeping over her form and features like an angry chord 
across the strings of a wild harp. But no softness or humility 
ensued on that. She did not lay her head down now, and 
weep, and say that she had no hope but in Florence. She 
held it up as if she were a beautiful Medusa, looking on 
him, face to face, to strike him dead. Yes, and she would 
have done it, if she had had the charm. 

"Mama," said Florence, anxiously, "there is a change in 
you, in more than what you say to me, which alarms me. 
Let me stay with you a little." 

" No,"" said Edith, " no, dearest. I am best left alone now, 
and I do best to keep apart from you, of all else. Ask me 
no questions, but believe that what I am when I seem fickle 
or capricious to you, I am not of my own will, or for myself. 
Believe, though we are stranger to each other than we have 



260 DOMBEY AND SON. 

been, that I am unchanged to you within. Forgive me for 
having ever darkened your dark home I am a shadow on it, 
I know well and let us never speak of this again. 1 ' 

"Mama,"" sobbed Florence, "we are not to part?" 

"We do this that we may not part, 11 said Edith. "Ask 
no more. Go, Florence ! My love and my remorse go with 
you! 11 

She embraced her, and dismissed her; and as Florence 
passed out of her room, Edith looked on the retiring figure, 
as if her good angel went out in that form, and left her to 
the haughty and indignant passions that now claimed her for 
their own, and set their seal upon her brow. 

From that hour, Florence and she were, as they had been, 
no more. For days together, they would seldom meet, except 
at table, and when Mr. Dombey was present. Then Edith, 
imperious, inflexible, and silent, never looked at her. When 
ever Mr. Carker was of the party, as he often was, during 
the progress of Mr. Dombey's recovery, and afterwards, Edith 
held herself more removed from her, and was more distant 
towards her, than at other times. Yet she and Florence 
never encountered, when there was no one by, but she would 
embrace her as affectionately as of old, though not with the 
same relenting of her proud aspect ; and often, Avhen she had 
been out late, she would steal up to Florence"^ room, as she 
had been used to do, in the dark, and whisper " Good Night," 
on her pillow. When unconscious, in her slumber, of such 
visits, Florence would sometimes awake, as from a dream of 
those words, softly spoken, and would seem to feel the touch 
of lips upon her face. But less and less often as the months 
went on. 

And now the void in Florence's own heart began again, 
indeed, to make a solitude around her. As the image of 
the father whom she loved had insensibly become a mere 
abstraction, so Edith, following the fate of all the rest about 
whom her affections had entwined themselves, was fleeting, 
fading, growing paler in the distance, every day. Little by 



VARIED EXPERIENCES. 261 

little, she receded from Florence, like the retiring ghost of 
what she had been ; little by little, the chasm between them 
widened and seemed deeper; little by little, all the power of 
earnestness and tenderness she had shown, was frozen up in 
bold, angry hardihood with which she stood, upon the brink 
of a deep precipice unseen by Florence, daring to look down. 

There was but one consideration to set against the heavy 
loss of Edith, and though it was slight comfort to her 
burdened heart, she tried to think it some relief. No longer 
divided between her affection and duty to the two, Florence 
could love both and do no injustice to either. As shadows 
of her fond imagination, she could give them equal place in 
her own bosom, and wrong them with no doubts. 

So she tried to do. At times, and often too, wondering 
speculations on the cause of this change in Edith would 
obtrude themselves upon her mind and frighten her; but in 
the calm of its abandonment once more to silent grief and 
loneliness, it was not a curious mind. Florence had only 
to remember that her star of promise was clouded in the 
general gloom that hung upon the house, and to weep and 
be resigned. 

Thus living, in a dream wherein the overflowing love of her 
young heart expended itself on airy forms, and in a real world 
where she had experienced little but the rolling back of that 
strong tide upon itself, Florence grew to be seventeen. Timid 
and retiring as her solitary life had made her, it had not 
embittered her sweet temper, or her earnest nature. A child 
in innocent simplicity ; a woman in her modest self-reliance, 
and her deep intensity of feeling ; both child and woman 
seemed at once expressed in her fair face and fragile delicacy 
of shape, and gracefully to mingle there; as if the spring 
should be unwilling to depart when summer came, and sought 
to blend the earlier beauties of the flowers with their bloom. 
But in her thrilling voice, in her calm eyes, sometimes in 
a strange ethereal light that seemed to rest upon her head, 
and always in a certain pensive air upon her beauty, there 



262 DOMBEY AND SON. 

was an expression, such as had been seen in the dead boy ; 
and the council in the Servants 1 Hall whispered so among 
themselves, and shook their heads, and ate and drank the 
more, in a closer bond of good-fellowship. 

This observant body had plenty to say of Mr. and Mrs. 
Dombey, and of Mr. Carker, who appeared to be a mediator 
between them, and who came and went as if he were trying 
to make peace, but never could. They all deplored the un 
comfortable state of affairs, and all agreed that Mrs. Pipchin 
(whose unpopularity was not to be surpassed) had some hand 
in it; but, upon the whole, it was agreeable to have so good 
a subject for a rallying point, and they made a great deal of 
it, and enjoyed themselves very much. 

The general visitors who came to the house, and those 
among whom Mr. and Mrs. Dombey visited, thought it a 
pretty equal match, as to haughtiness, at all events, and 
thought nothing more about it. The young lady with the 
back did not appear for some time after Mrs. Skewton's death ; 
observing to some particular friends, with her usual engaging 
little scream, that she couldn't separate the family from a 
notion of tombstones, and horrors of that sort ; but when 
she did come, she saw nothing wrong, except Mr. Dombey's 
wearing a bunch of gold seals to his watch, which shocked 
her very much, as an exploded superstition. This youthful 
fascinator considered a daughter-in-law objectionable in prin 
ciple; otherwise, she had nothing to say against Florence, 
but that she sadly wanted " style " which might mean back, 
perhaps. Many, who only came to the house on state occasions, 
hardly knew who Florence was, and said, going home, " Indeed, 
was that Miss Dombey, in the corner? Very pretty, but a 
little delicate and thoughtful in appearance ! " 

None the less so, certainly, for her life of the last six 
months, Florence took her seat at the dinner-table, on the 
day before the second anniversary of her father's marriage to 
Edith (Mrs. Skewton had been lying stricken with paralysis 
when the first came round), with an uneasiness, amounting to 



ANNIVERSARY DINNER-PARTY PROJECTED. 263 

dread. She had no other warrant for it, than the occasion, 
the expression of her father's face, in the hasty glance she 
caught of it, and the presence of Mr. Carker, which, always 
unpleasant to her, was more so on this day, than she had 
ever felt it before. 

Edith was richly dressed, for she and Mr. Dombey were 
engaged in the evening to some large assembly, and the 
dinner-hour that day was late. She did not appear until 
they were seated at table, when Mr. Carker rose and led her 
to her chair. Beautiful and lustrous as she was, there was 
that in her face and air which seemed to separate her hope 
lessly from Florence, and from every one, for ever more. And 
yet, for an instant, Florence saw a beam of kindness in her 
eyes, when they were turned on her, that made the distance 
to which she had withdrawn herself, a greater cause of sorrow 
and regret than ever. 

There was very little said at dinner. Florence heard her 
father speak to Mr. Carker sometimes on business matters, 
and heard him softly reply, but she paid little attention 
to what they said, and only wished the dinner at an end. 
When the dessert was placed upon the table, and they were 
left alone, with no servant in attendance, Mr. Dombey, who 
had been several times clearing his throat in a manner that 
augured no good, said : 

" Mrs. Dombey, you know, I suppose, that I have instructed 
the housekeeper that there will be some company to dinner 
here to-morrow." 

"I do not dine at home," she answered. 
"Not a large party," pursued Mr. Dombey, with an in 
different assumption of not having heard her; "merely some 
twelve or fourteen. My sister, Major Bagstock, and some 
others whom you know but slightly." 
"I do not dine at home," she repeated. 
" However doubtful reason I may have, Mrs. Dombey," 
said Mr. Dombey, still going majestically on, as if she 
had not spoken, "to hold the occasion in very pleasant 



264 DOMBEY AND SON. 

remembrance just now, there are appearances in these things 
which must be maintained before the world. If you have no 
respect for yourself, Mrs. Dombey " 

" I have none," she said. 

"Madam," cried Mr. Dombey, striking his hand upon the 
table, " hear me if you please. I say, if you have no respect 
for yourself " 

" And / say I have none,"" she answered. 

He looked at her; but the face she showed him in return 
would not have changed, if death itself had looked. 

" Carker," said Mr. Dombey, turning more quietly to that 
gentleman, " as you have been my medium of communication 
Avith Mrs. Dombey on former occasions, and as I choose to 
preserve the decencies of life, so far as I am individually 
concerned, I will trouble you to have the goodness to inform 
Mrs. Dombey that if she has no respect for herself, I have 
some respect for myself, and therefore insist on my arrange 
ments for to-morrow." 

"Tell your sovereign master, Sir," said Edith, "that I will 
take leave to speak to him on this subject by-and-bye, and 
that I will speak to him alone." 

"Mr. Carker, Madam," said her husband, "being in pos 
session of the reason which obliges me to refuse you that 
privilege, shall be absolved from the delivery of any such 
message." He saw her eyes move, while he spoke, and 
followed them with his own. 

"Your daughter is present, Sir," said Edith. 

"My daughter will remain present," said Mr. Dombey. 

Florence, who had risen, sat down again, hiding her face 
in her hands, and trembling. 

"My daughter, Madam" began Mr. Dombey. 

But Edith stopped him, in a voice which, although not 
raised in the least, was so clear, emphatic, and distinct, that 
it might have been heard in a whirlwind. 

" I tell you I will speak to you alone," she said. " If you 
are not mad, heed what I say." 



CONDUCT TO BE AVOIDED. 265 

"I have authority to speak to you, Madam," returned her 
husband, " when and where I please ; and it is my pleasure to 
speak here and now." 

She rose up as if to leave the room ; but sat down again, 
and looking at him with all outward composure, said, in the 
same voice : 

" You shall ! " 

"I must tell you first, that there is a threatening appear 
ance in your manner, Madam," said Mr. Dombey, "which 
does not become you." 

She laughed. The shaken diamonds in her hair started 
and trembled. There are fables of precious stones that would 
turn pale, their wearer being in danger. Had these been 
such, their imprisoned rays of light would have taken flight 
that moment, and they would have been as dull as lead. 

Carker listened, with his eyes cast down. 

" As to my daughter, Madam," said Mr. Dombey, resuming 
the thread of his discourse, "it is by no means inconsistent 
with her duty to me, that she should know what conduct to 
avoid. At present you are a very strong example to her 
of this kind, and I hope she may profit by it." 

"I would not stop you now," returned his wife, immove- 
able in eye, and voice, and attitude; "I would not rise and 
go away, and save you the utterance of one word, if the 
room were burning." 

Mr. Dombey moved his head, as if in a sarcastic acknow 
ledgment of the attention, and resumed. But not with so 
much self-possession as before ; for Edith's quick uneasiness 
in reference to Florence, and Edith's indifference to him 
and his censure, chafed and galled him like a stiffening 
wound. 

" Mrs. Dombey," said he, " it may not be inconsistent with 
my daughter's improvement to know how very much to be 
lamented, and how necessary to be corrected, a stubborn 
disposition is, especially when it is indulged in unthankfully 
indulged in, I will add after the gratification of ambition 



266 DOMBEY AND SON. 

and interest. Both of which, I believe, had some share in 
inducing you to occupy your present station at this board.' 1 '' 

" No ! I would not rise, and go away, and save you the 
utterance of one word," she repeated, exactly as before, "if 
the room were burning."" 

"It may be natural enough, Mrs. Dombey," he pursued, 
" that you should be uneasy in the presence of any auditors 
of these disagreeable truths; though why" he could not 
hide his real feelings here, or keep his eyes from glancing 
gloomily at Florence "why any one can give them greater 
force and point than myself, whom they so nearly concern, I 
do not pretend to understand. It may be natural enough 
that you should object to hear, in anybody's presence, that 
there is a rebellious principle within you which you cannot 
curb too soon; which you must curb, Mrs. Dombey; and 
which, I regret to say, I remember to have seen manifested 
with some doubt and displeasure, on more than one occasion 
before our marriage towards your deceased mother. But 
you have the remedy in your own hands. I by no means 
forgot, when I began, that my daughter was present, Mrs. 
Dombey. I beg you will not forget, to-morrow, that there 
are several persons present; and that, with some regard to 
appearances, you will receive your company in a becoming 
manner." 

"So it is not enough,' 1 said Edith, "that you know what 
has passed between yourself and me; it is not enough that 
you can look here," pointing at Carker, who still listened, with 
his eyes cast down, " and be reminded of the affronts you 
have put upon me ; it is not enough that you can look here," 
pointing to Florence with a hand that slightly trembled for 
the first and only time, "and think of what you have done, 
and of the ingenious agony, daily, hourly, constant, you have 
made me feel in doing it; it is not enough that this day, 
of all others in the year, is memorable to me for a struggle 
(well-deserved, but not conceivable by such as you) in which 
I wish I had died ! You add to all this, do you, the last 



A SPIRIT OF OPPOSITION. 267 

crowning meanness of making her a witness of the depth to 
which I have fallen; when you know that you have made 
me sacrifice to her peace, the only gentle feeling and interest 
of my life, when you know that for her sake, I would now 
if I could but I can not, my soul recoils from you too much 
submit myself wholly to your will and be the meekest 
vassal that you have ! " 

This was not the way to minister to Mr. Dombey's 
greatness. The old feeling was roused by what she said, 
into a stronger and fiercer existence than it had ever had. 
Again, his neglected child, at this rough passage of his life, 
put forth by even this rebellious woman, as powerful where 
he was powerless, and everything where he was nothing ! 

He turned on Florence, as if it were she who had spoken, 
and bade her leave the room. Florence with her covered 
face obeyed, trembling and weeping as she went. 

"I understand, Madam," said Mr. Dombey, with an angry 
flush of triumph, "the spirit of opposition that turned your 
affections in that channel, but they have been met, Mrs. 
Dombey ; they have been met, and turned back ! " 

" The worse for you ! " she answered, with her voice and 
manner still unchanged. " Aye ! " for he turned sharply 
when she said so, "what is the worse for me, is twenty 
million times the worse for you. Heed that, if you heed 
nothing else." 

The arch of diamonds spanning her dark hair, flashed and 
glittered like a starry bridge. There was no warning in 
them, or they would have turned as dull and dim as tarnished 
honour. Carker still sat and listened, with his eyes cast 
down. 

"Mrs. Dombey," said Mr. Dombey, resuming as much as 
he could of his arrogant composure, "you will not con 
ciliate me, or turn me from any purpose, by this course of 
conduct." 

"It is the only true although it is a faint expression of 
what is within me," she replied. " But if I thought it would 



268 DOMBEY AND SON. 

conciliate you, I would repress it, if it were repressible by 
any human effort. I will do nothing that you ask."' 

" I am not accustomed to ask, Mrs. Dombey," he observed ; 
" I direct." 

"I will hold no place in your house to-morrow, or on any 
recurrence of to-morrow. I will be exhibited to no one, as 
the refractory slave you purchased, such a time. If I kept 
my marriage-day, I would keep it as a day of shame. Self- 
respect ! appearances before the world ! what are these to me ? 
You have done all you can to make them nothing to me, 
and they are nothing." 

"Carker," said Mr. Dombey, speaking with knitted brows, 
and after a moment's consideration, "Mrs. Dombey is so 
forgetful of herself and me in all this, and places me in a 
position so unsuited to my character, that I must bring this 
state of matters to a close. 1 " 

"Release me, then," said Edith, immoveable in voice, in 
look, and bearing, as she had been throughout, "from the 
chain by which I am bound. Let me go." 

"Madam?" exclaimed Mr. Dombey. 

" Loose me. Set me free ! " 

" Madam ? " he repeated, " Mrs. Dombey ? " 

"Tell him," said Edith, addressing her proud face to 
Carker, "that I wish for a separation between us. That 
there had better be one. That I recommend it to him. Tell 
him it may take place on his own terms his wealth is 
nothing to me but that it cannot be too soon." 

" Good Heaven, Mrs. Dombey ! " said her husband, with 
supreme amazement, "do you imagine it possible that I 
could ever listen to such a proposition ? Do you know who 
I am, Madam ? Do you know what I represent ? Did you 
ever hear of Dombey and Son? People to say that Mr. 
Dombey Mr. Dombey ! was separated from his wife ! 
Common people to talk of Mr. Dombey and his domestic 
affairs ! Do you seriously think, Mrs. Dombey, that I would 
permit my name to be handed about in such connexion? 



QUESTION OF A SEPARATION. 269 

Pooh, pooh, Madam! Fie for shame! You're absurd.' 1 
Mr. Dombey absolutely laughed. 

But not as she did. She had better have been dead than 
laugh as she did, in reply, with her intent look fixed upon 
him. He had better have been dead, than sitting there, in 
his magnificence, to hear her. 

"No, Mrs. Dombey," he resumed. "No, Madam. There 
is no possibility of separation between you and me, and 
therefore I the more advise you to be awakened to a sense 
of duty. And, Carker, as I was about to say to you " 

Mr. Carker, who had sat and listened all this time, now 
raised his eyes, in which there was a bright unusual light. 

" As I was about to say to you," resumed Mr. Dombey, 
"I must beg you, now that matters have come to this, to 
inform Mrs. Dombey, that it is not the rule of my life to 
allow myself to be thwarted by anybody anybody, Carker 
or to suffer anybody to be paraded as a stronger motive 
for obedience in those who owe obedience to me than I am 
myself. The mention that has been made of my daughter, 
and the use that is made of my daughter, in opposition 
to me, are unnatural. Whether my daughter is in actual 
concert with Mrs. Dombey, I do not know, and do not care; 
but after what Mrs. Dombey has said to-day, and my 
daughter has heard to-day, I beg you to make known to Mrs. 
Dombey, that if she continues to make this house the scene 
of contention it has become, I shall consider my daughter 
responsible in some degree, on that lady's own avowal, and 
shall visit her with my severe displeasure. Mrs. Dombey 
has asked * whether it is not enough,' that she had done this 
and that. You will please to answer no, it is not enough." 

" A moment ! " cried Carker, interposing, " permit me ! 
painful as my position is, at the best, and unusually painful 
in seeming to entertain a different opinion from you," 
addressing Mr. Dombey, "I must ask, had you not better 
re-consider the question of a separation ? I know how in 
compatible it appears Avith your high public position, and I 



270 DOMBEY AND SON. 

know how determined you are when you give Mrs. Dombey 
to understand"" the light in his eyes fell upon her as he 
separated his words each from each, with the distinctness of 
so many bells "that nothing but death can ever part you. 
Nothing else. But when you consider that Mrs. Dombey, 
by living in this house, and making it as you have said, a 
scene of contention, not only as her part in that contention, 
but compromises Miss Dombey every day (for I know how 
determined you are), will you not relieve her from a continual 
irritation of spirit, and a continual sense of being unjust to 
another, almost intolerable? Does this not seem like I do 
not say it is sacrificing Mrs. Dombey to the preservation of 
your pre-eminent and unassailable position ? " 

Again the light in his eyes fell upon her, as she stood 
looking at her husband : now with an extraordinary and 
awful smile upon her face. 

"Carker, 11 returned Mr. Dombey, with a supercilious 
frown, and in a tone that was intended to be final, "you 
mistake your position in offering advice to me on such a 
point, and you mistake me (I am surprised to find) in the 
character of your advice. I have no more to say. 11 

" Perhaps, 11 said Carker, with an unusual and indefinable 
taunt in his air, "you mistook my position, when you 
honoured me with the negotiations in which I have been 
engaged here 11 with a motion of his hand towards Mrs. 
Dombey. 

"Not at all, Sir, not at all, 11 returned the other haughtily. 
" You were employed " 

"Being an inferior person, for the humiliation of Mrs. 
Dombey. I forgot. Oh, yes, it was expressly understood ! " 
said Carker. " I beg your pardon ! " 

As he bent his head to Mr. Dombey, with an air of 
deference that accorded ill with his words, though they were 
humbly spoken, he moved it round towards her, and kept 
his watching eyes that way. 

She had better have turned hideous and dropped dead, 



ON THE STAIRCASE. 271 

than have stood up with such a smile upon her face, in such 
a fallen spirit's majesty of scorn and beauty. She lifted her 
hand to the tiara of bright jewels radiant on her head, and, 
plucking it off with a force that dragged and strained her 
rich black hair with heedless cruelty, and brought it tumbling 
wildly on her shoulders, cast the gems upon the ground. 
From each arm, she unclasped a diamond bracelet, flung it 
doAvn, and trod upon the glittering heap. Without a word, 
without a shadow on the fire of her bright eye, without 
abatement of her awful smile, she looked on Mr. Dombey 
to the last, in moving to the door ; and left him. 

Florence had heard enough before quitting the room, to 
know that Edith loved her yet; that she had suffered for 
her sake ; and that she had kept her sacrifices quiet, lest 
they should trouble her peace. She did not want to speak 
to her of this she could not, remembering to whom she 
was opposed but she wished, in one silent and affectionate 
embrace, to assure her that she felt it all, and thanked her. 

Her father went out alone, that evening, and Florence 
issuing from her own chamber soon afterwards, went about the 
house in search of Edith, but unavailingly. She was in her 
own rooms, where Florence had long ceased to go, and did not 
dare to venture now, lest she should unconsciously engender 
new trouble. Still Florence hoping to meet her before going 
to bed, changed from room to room, and wandered through 
the house so splendid and so dreary, without remaining 
anywhere. 

She was crossing a gallery of communication that opened 
at some little distance on the staircase, and was only lighted 
on great occasions, when she saw, through the opening, 
which was an arch, the figure of a man coming down some 
few stairs opposite. Instinctively apprehensive of her father, 
whom she supposed it was, she stopped, in the dark, gazing 
through the arch into the light. But it was Mr. Carker 
coming down alone, and looking over the railing into the hall. 
No bell was rung to announce his departure, and no servant 



272 DOMBEY AND SON. 

was in attendance. He went down quietly, opened the door 
for himself, glided out, and shut it softly after him. 

Her invincible repugnance to this man, and perhaps the 
stealthy act of watching any one, which, even under such 
innocent circumstances, is in a manner guilty and oppressive, 
made Florence shake from head to foot. Her blood seemed 
to run cold. As soon as she could for at first she felt an 
insurmountable dread of moving she went quickly to her 
own room and locked her door; but even then, shut in with 
her dog beside her, felt a chill sensation of horror, as if 
there were danger brooding somewhere near her. 

It invaded her dreams and disturbed the whole night. 
Rising in the morning, unrefreshed, and with a heavy recol 
lection of the domestic unhappiness of the preceding day, she 
sought Edith again in all the rooms, and did so, from time 
to time, all the morning. But she remained in her own 
chamber, and Florence saw nothing of her. Learning, how 
ever, that the projected dinner at home was put off, Florence 
thought it likely that she would go out in the evening to 
fulfil the engagement she had spoken of; and resolved to 
try and meet her, then, upon the staircase. 

When the evening had set in, she heard, from the room 
in which she sat on purpose, a footstep on the stairs that 
she thought to be Edith's. Hurrying out, and up towards 
her room, Florence met her immediately, coming down alone. 

What was Florence's affright and wonder when, at sight 
of her, with her tearful face, and outstretched arms, Edith 
recoiled and shrieked! 

" Don't come near me ! " she cried. " Keep away ! Let 
me go by ! " 

" Mama ! " said Florence. 

" Don't call me by that name ! Don't speak to me ! Don't 
look at me ! Florence ! " shrinking back, as Florence moved 
a step towards her, " don't touch me ! " 

As Florence stood transfixed before the haggard face and 
staring eyes, she noted, as in a dream, that Edith spread her 



WAITING FOR EDITH'S RETURN. 273 

hands over them, and shuddering through all her form, and 
crouching down against the wall, crawled by her like some 
lower animal, sprang up, and fled away. 

Florence dropped upon the stairs in a swoon ; and was 
found there by Mrs. Pipchin, she supposed. She knew 
nothing more, until she found herself lying on her own bed, 
with Mrs. Pipchin and some servants standing round her. 

" Where is Mama ? " was her first question. 

" Gone out to dinner, 1 ' said Mrs. Pipchin. 

"And Papa?" 

"Mr. Dombey is in his own room, Miss Dombey," said 
Mrs. Pipchin, "and the best thing you can do, is to take 
off your things and go to bed this minute." This was the 
sagacious woman's remedy for all complaints, particularly 
lowness of spirits, and inability to sleep; for which offences, 
many young victims in the days of the Brighton Castle had 
been committed to bed at ten o'clock in the morning. 

O 

Without promising obedience, but on the plea of desiring 
to be very quiet, Florence disengaged herself, as soon as she 
could, from the ministration of Mrs. Pipchin and her attend 
ants. Left alone, she thought of what had happened on the 
staircase, at first in doubt of its reality ; then with tears ; 
then with an indescribable and terrible alarm, like that she 
had felt the night before. 

She determined not to go to bed until Edith returned, 
and if she could not speak to her, at least to be sure that 
she was safe at home. What indistinct and shadowy dread 
moved Florence to this resolution, she did not know, and did 
not dare to think. She only knew that until Edith came 
back, there was no repose for her aching head or throbbing 
heart. 

The evening deepened into night : midnight came ; no 
Edith. 

Florence could not read, or rest a moment. She paced 
her own room, opened the door and paced the staircase- 
gallery outside, looked out of window on the night, listened 

VOL. II. T 



274 DOMBEY AND SON. 

to the wind blowing and the rain falling, sat down and 
watched the faces in the fire, got up and watched the moon 
flying like a storm-driven ship through the sea of clouds. 

All the house was gone to bed, except two servants who 
were waiting the return of their mistress, down stairs. 

One o'clock. The carriages that rumbled in the distance, 
turned away, or stopped short, or went past; the silence 
gradually deepened, and was more and more rarely broken, 
save by a rush of wind or sweep of rain. Two o'clock. No 
Edith ! 

Florence, more agitated, paced her room, and paced the 
gallery outside ; and looked out at the night, blurred and 
wavy with the rain-drops on the glass, and the tears in her 
own eyes ; and looked up at the hurry in the sky, so different 
from the repose below, and yet so tranquil and solitary. 
Three o'clock ! There was a terror in every ash that dropped 
out of the fire. No Edith yet. 

More and more agitated, Florence paced her room, and 
paced the gallery, and looked out at the moon Avith a new 
fancy of her likeness to a pale fugitive hurrying away and 
hiding her guilty face. Four struck ! Five ! No Edith yet. 

But now there was some cautious stir in the house; and 
Florence found that Mrs. Pipchin had been awakened by one 
of those who sat up, had risen and had gone down to her 
father's door. Stealing lower down the stairs, and observing 
what passed, she saw her father come out in his morning 
gown, and start when he was told his wife had not come 
home. He dispatched a messenger to the stables to inquire 
whether the coachman was there; and while the man was 
gone, dressed himself very hurriedly. 

The man came back, in great haste, bringing the coachman 
with him, who said he had been at home and in bed since 
ten o'clock. He had driven his mistress to her old house in 
Brook Street, where she had been met by Mr. Carker 

Florence stood upon the very spot where she had seen him 
coining down. Again she shivered with the nameless terror 



ELOPED. 275 

of that sight, and had hardly steadiness enough to hear and 
understand what followed. 

Who had told him, the man went on to say, that his 
mistress would not want the carnage to go home in ; and had 
dismissed him. 

She saw her father turn white in the face, and heard him 
ask in a quick, trembling voice for Mrs. Dombey's maid. 
The whole house was roused ; for she was there, in a moment, 
very pale too, and speaking incoherently. 

She said she had dressed her mistress early full two hours 
before she went out and had been told, as she often was, 
that she would not be wanted at night. She had just come 
from her mistress's rooms, but 

" But what ! what was it ? " Florence heard her father 
demand like a madman. 

" But the inner dressing-room was locked, and the key gone." 

Her father seized a candle that was flaming on the ground 
some one had put it down there, and forgotten it and 
came running up stairs with such fury, that Florence, in her 
fear, had hardly time to fly before him. She heard him 
striking in the door as she ran on, with her hands widely 
spread, and her hair streaming, and her face like a distracted 
person's, back to her own room. 

When the door yielded, and he rushed in, what did he 
see there? No one knew. But thrown down in a costly 
mass upon the ground, was every ornament she had had, 
since she had been his wife : every dress she had worn ; and 
everything she had possessed. This was the room in which 
he had seen, in yonder mirror, the proud face discard him. 
This was the room in which he had wondered, idly, how 
these things would look when he should see them next ! 

Heaping them back into the drawers, and locking them 
up in a rage of haste, he saw some papers on the table. 
The deed of settlement he had executed on their marriage, 
and a letter. He read that she was gone. He read that 
he was dishonoured. He read that she had fled, upon her 



276 DOMBEY AND SON. 

shameful wedding-day, with the man whom he had chosen 
for her humiliation; and he tore out of the room, and out 
of the house, with a frantic idea of finding her yet, at the 
place to which she had been taken, and beating all trace of 
beauty out of the triumphant face with his bare hand. 

Florence, not knowing what she did, put on a shawl and 
bonnet, in a dream of running through the streets until she 
found Edith, and then clasping her in her arms, to save and 
bring her back. But when she hurried out upon the staircase, 
and saw the frightened servants going up and down with 
lights, and whispering together, and falling away from her 
father as he passed down, she awoke to a sense of her own 
powerlessness ; and hiding in one of the great rooms that 
had been made gorgeous for this, felt as if her heart would 
burst with grief. 

Compassion for her father was the first distinct emotion 
that made head against the flood of sorrow which over 
whelmed her. Her constant nature turned to him in his 
distress, as fervently and faithfully, as if, in his prosperity, he 
had been the embodiment of that idea which had gradually 
become so faint and dim. Although she did not know, 
otherwise than through the suggestions of a shapeless fear, 
the full extent of his calamity, he stood before her wronged 
and deserted; and again her yearning love impelled her to 
his side. 

He was not long away : for Florence was yet weeping in 
the great room and nourishing these thoughts, when she 
heard him come back. He ordered the servants to set about 
their ordinary occupations, and went into his own apartment, 
where he trod so heavily that she could hear him walking 
up and down from end to end. 

Yielding at once to the impulse of her affection, timid at 
all other times, but bold in its truth to him in his adversity, 
and undaunted by past repulse, Florence, dressed as she 
was, hurried down stairs. As she set her light foot in the 
hall, he came out of his room. She hastened towards him 



FLORENCE LEAVES THE HOUSE. 277 

unchecked, with her arms stretched out, and crying " Oh dear, 
dear Papa ! " as if she would have clasped him round the neck. 

And so she would have done. But in his frenzy, he lifted 
up his cruel arm, and struck her, crosswise, with that 
heaviness, that she tottered on the marble floor; and as he 
dealt the blow, he told her what Edith was, and bade her 
follow her, since they had always been in league. 

She did not sink down at his feet; she did not shut out 
the sight of him with her trembling hands ; she did not weep ; 
she did not utter one word of reproach. But she looked at 
him, and a cry of desolation issued from her heart. For as 
she looked, she saw him murdering that fond idea to which 
she had held in spite of him. She saw his cruelty, neglect, 
and hatred dominant above it, and stamping it down. She 
saw she had no father upon earth, and ran out, orphaned, 
from his house. 

Ran out of his house. A moment, and her hand was on 
the lock, the cry was on her lips, his face was there, made 
paler by the yellow candles hastily put down and guttering 
away, and by the daylight coming in above the door. 
Another moment, and the close darkness of the shut-up 
house (forgotten to be opened, though it was long since day) 
yielded to the unexpected glare and freedom of the morning ; 
and Florence, with her head bent down to hide her agony 
of tears, was in the streets. 



CHAPTER XLVIII. 

THE FLIGHT OF FLORENCE. 

IN the wildness of her sorrow, shame, and terror, the forlorn 
girl hurried through the sunshine of a bright morning, as 
if it were the darkness of a winter night. Wringing her 
hands and weeping bitterly, insensible to everything but the 
deep wound in her breast, stunned by the loss of all she 
loved, left like the sole survivor on a lonely shore from 
the wreck of a great vessel, she fled without a thought, 
without a hope, without a purpose, but to fly somewhere 
anywhere. 

The cheerful vista of the long street, burnished by the 
morning light, the sight of the blue sky and airy clouds, the 
vigorous freshness of the day, so flushed and rosy in its 
conquest of the night, awakened no responsive feelings in her 
so hurt bosom. Somewhere, anywhere, to hide her head ! 
somewhere, anywhere, for refuge, never more to look upon 
the place from which she fled ! 

But there were people going to and fro; there were 
opening shops, and servants at the doors of houses; there 
was the rising clash and roar of the day's struggle. Florence 
saw surprise and curiosity in the faces flitting past her; saw 
long shadows coming back upon the pavement; and heard 
voices that were strange to her asking her where she went, 
and what the matter was; and though these frightened her 
the more at first, and made her hurry on the faster, they 



BOUND FOR THE LITTLE MIDSHIPMAN. 279 

did her the good service of recalling her in some degree 
to herself, and reminding her of the necessity of greater 
composure. 

Where to go ? Still somewhere, anywhere ! still going on ; 
but where! She thought of the only other time she had 
been lost in the wild wilderness of London though not lost 
as now and went that way. To the home of Walter's uncle. 

Checking her sobs, and drying her swollen eyes, and en 
deavouring to calm the agitation of her manner, so as to 
avoid attracting notice, Florence, resolving to keep to the 
more quiet streets as long as she could, was going on more 
quietly herself, when a familiar little shadow darted past upon 
the sunny pavement, stopped short, wheeled about, came close 
to her, made off again, bounded round and round her, and 
Diogenes, panting for breath, and yet making the street ring 
with his glad bark, was at her feet. 

" Oh, Di ! oh, dear, true, faithful Di, how did you come 
here ! How could I ever leave you, Di, who would never 
leave me ! " 

Florence bent down on the pavement, and laid his rough, 
old, loving, foolish head against her breast, and they got up 
together, and went on together ; Di more off the ground than 
on it, endeavouring to kiss his mistress flying, tumbling over 
and getting up again without the least concern, dashing at 
big dogs in a jocose defiance of his species, terrifying with 
touches of his nose young housemaids who were cleaning door 
steps, and continually stopping, in the midst of a thousand 
extravagances, to look back at Florence, and bark until all 
the dogs within hearing answered, and all the dogs who could 
come out, came out to stare at him. 

With this last adherent, Florence hurried away in the 
advancing morning, and the strengthening sunshine, to the 
City. The roar soon grew more loud, the passengers more 
numerous, the shops more busy, until she was carried onward 
in a stream of life setting that way, and flowing, indifferently, 
past marts and mansions, prisons, churches, market-places, 



280 DOMBEY AND SON. 

wealth, poverty, good, and evil, like the broad river side by 
side with it, awakened from its dreams of rushes, willows, and 
green moss, and rolling on, turbid and troubled, among the 
works and cares of men, to the deep sea. 

At length the quarters of the little Midshipman arose in 
view. Nearer yet, and the little Midshipman himself was seen 
upon his post, intent as ever, on his observations. Nearer 
yet, and the door stood open, inviting her to enter. Florence, 
who had again quickened her pace, as she approached the 
end of her journey, ran across the road (closely followed by 
Diogenes, whom the bustle had somewhat confused), ran in, 
and sank upon the threshold of the well-remembered little 
parlour. 

The Captain, in his glazed hat, was standing over the fire, 
making his morning's cocoa, with that elegant trifle, his watch, 
upon the chimney-piece, for easy reference during the progress 
of the cookery. Hearing a footstep and the rustle of a dress, 
the Captain turned with a palpitating remembrance of the 
dreadful Mrs. MacStinger, at the instant when Florence made 
a motion with her hand towards him, reeled, and fell upon 
the floor. 

The Captain, pale as Florence, pale in the very knobs upon 
his face, raised her like a baby, and laid her on the same old 
sofa upon which she had slumbered long ago. 

" It's Heart's Delight ! " said the Captain, looking intently 
in her face. " It's the sweet creetur grow'd a woman ! " 

Captain Cuttle was so respectful of her, and had such a 
reverence for her, in this new character, that he would not 
have held her in his arms, while she was unconscious, for a 
thousand pounds. 

" My Heart's Delight ! " said the Captain, withdrawing to 
a little distance, with the greatest alarm and sympathy de 
picted on his countenance. " If you can hail Ned Cuttle with 
a finger, do it ! " 

But Florence did not stir. 

" My Heart's Delight ! " said the trembling Captain. " For 



FLORENCE RECOVERS CONSCIOUSNESS. 281 

the sake of Wal'r drownded in the briny deep, tum to, and 
histe up something or another, if able." 

Finding her insensible to this impressive adjuration also, 
Captain Cuttle snatched from his breakfast-table a basin of 
cold water, and sprinkled some upon her face. Yielding to the 
urgency of the case, the Captain then, using his immense hand 
with extraordinary gentleness, relieved her of her bonnet, 
moistened her lips and forehead, put back her hair, covered 
her feet with his own coat which he pulled off for the purpose, 
patted her hand so small in his, that he was struck with 
wonder when he touched it and seeing that her eyelids 
quivered, and that her lips began to move, continued these 
restorative applications with a better heart. 

" Cheerily, 11 said the Captain. " Cheerily ! Stand by, my 
pretty one, stand by ! There ! You're better now. Steady's 
the word, and steady it is. Keep her so! Drink a little 
drop o 1 this here," said the Captain. " There you are ! What 
cheer now, my pretty, what cheer now ? " 

At this stage of her recovery, Captain Cuttle, with an 
imperfect association of a Watch with a Physician's treatment 
of a patient, took his own down from the mantel-shelf, and 
holding it out on his hook, and taking Florence's hand in his, 
looked steadily from one to the other, as expecting the dial 
to do something. 

" What cheer, my pretty ? " said the Captain. " What cheer 
now ? You've done her some good, my lad, I believe," said 
the Captain, under his breath, and throwing an approving 
glance upon his watch. "Put you back half-an-hour every 
morning, and about another quarter towards the afternoon, 
and you're a watch as can be ekalled by few and excelled by 
none. What cheer, my lady lass ! " 

" Captain Cuttle ! Is it you ! " exclaimed Florence, raising 
herself a little. 

" Yes, yes, my lady lass," said the Captain, hastily deciding 
in his own mind upon the superior elegance of that form of 
address, as the most courtly he could think of. 



282 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Is Walter's uncle here?" asked Florence. 

" Here, pretty ! " returned the Captain. " He suit been here 
this many a long day. He an't been heerd on, since he sheered 
off arter poor WaTr. But," said the Captain, as a quotation, 
" Though lost to sight, to memory dear, and England, Home, 
and Beauty ! " 

" Do you live here ? " asked Florence. 

" Yes, my lady lass," returned the Captain. 

" Oh, Captain Cuttle ! " cried Florence, putting her hands 
together, and speaking wildly. " Save me ! keep me here ! Let 
no one know where I am ! Ill tell you what has happened 
by-and-by, when I can. I have no one in the world to go 
to. Do not send me away!" 

" Send you away, my lady lass ! " exclaimed the Captain. 
" You, my Heart's Delight ! Stay a bit ! We'll put up this 
here dead-light, and take a double turn on the key ! " 

With these words, the Captain, using his one hand and 
his hook with the greatest dexterity, got out the shutter of 
the door, put it up, made it all fast, and locked the door 
itself. 

When he came back to the side of Florence, she took his 
hand, and kissed it. The helplessness of the action, the 
appeal it made to him, the confidence it expressed, the un 
speakable sorrow in her face, the pain of mind she had too 
plainly suffered, and was suffering then, his knowledge of her 
past history, her present lonely, worn, and unprotected appear 
ance, all so rushed upon the good Captain together, that he 
fairly overflowed with compassion and gentleness. 

"My lady lass," said the Captain, polishing the bridge of 
his nose with his arm until it shone like burnished copper, 
" don't you say a word to Ed'ard Cuttle, until such times as 
you finds yourself a riding smooth and easy ; which won't be 
to-day, nor yet to-morrow. And as to giving of you up, or 
reporting where you are, yes verily, and by God's help, so I 
won't, Church catechism, make a note on ! " 

This the Captain said, reference and all, in one breath, and 



DIOGENES IS FRIENDLY. 283 

with much solemnity ; taking oft' his hat at " yes verily," and 
putting it on again, when he had quite concluded. 

Florence could do but one thing more to thank him, and 
to show him how she trusted in him ; and she did it. Cling 
ing to this rough creature as the last asylum of her bleeding 
heart, she laid her head upon his honest shoulder, and clasped 
him round his neck, and would have kneeled down to bless 
him, but that he divined her purpose, and held her up like 
a true man. 

" Steady ! " said the Captain. " Steady ! You're too weak 
to stand, you see, my pretty, and must lie down here again. 
There, there ! " To see the Captain lift her on the sofa, and 
cover her with his coat, would have been worth a hundred 
state sights. "And now," said the Captain, "you must take 
some breakfast, lady lass, and the dog shall have some too. 
And arter that you shall go aloft to old Sol Gills's room, and 
fall asleep there, like a angel. 1 ' 1 

Captain Cuttle patted Diogenes when he made allusion to 
him, and Diogenes met that overture graciously, half-way. 
During the administration of the restoratives he had clearly 
been in two minds whether to fly at the Captain or to offer 
him his friendship; and he had expressed that conflict of 
feeling by alternate waggings of his tail, and displays of his 
teeth, with now and then a growl or so. But by this time 
his doubts were all removed. It was plain that he considered 
the Captain one of the most amiable of men, and a man whom 
it was an honour to a dog to know. 

In evidence of these convictions, Diogenes attended on the 
Captain while he made some tea and toast, and showed a 
lively interest in his housekeeping. But it was in vain for the 
kind Captain to make such preparations for Florence, Avho 
sorely tried to do some honour to them, but could touch 
nothing, and could only weep and weep again. 

"Well, well!" said the compassionate Captain, "arter 
turning in, my Heart's Delight, you'll get more way upon 
you. Now, I'll serve out your allowance, my lad." To 



284 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Diogenes. "And you shall keep guard on your mistress 
aloft. 1 ' 

Diogenes, however, although he had been eyeing his intended 
breakfast with a watering mouth and glistening eyes, instead of 
falling to, ravenously, when it was put before him, pricked up 
his ears, darted to the shop-door, and barked there furiously : 
burrowing with his head at the bottom, as if he were bent 
on mining his way out. 

" Can there be anybody there ! " asked Florence, in alarm. 

"No, my lady lass," returned the Captain. "Who'd stay 
there, without making any noise ! Keep up a good heart, 
pretty. It's only people going by." 

But for all that, Diogenes barked and barked, and 
burrowed and burrowed, with pertinacious fury; and when 
ever he stopped to listen, appeared to receive some new con 
viction into his mind, for he set to, barking and burrowing 
again, a dozen times. Even when he was persuaded to return 
to his breakfast, he came jogging back to it, with a very 
doubtful air; and was off again, in another paroxysm, before 
touching a morsel. 

"If there should be some one listening and watching," 
whispered Florence. " Some one who saw me come who 
followed me, perhaps." 

" It an't the young woman, lady lass, is it ? " said the Cap 
tain, taken with a bright idea. 

" Susan ? " said Florence, shaking her head. " Ah no ! 
Susan has been gone from me a long time." 

" Not deserted, I hope ? " said the Captain. " Don't say that 
that there young woman's run, my pretty ! " 

" Oh, no, no ! " cried Florence. " She is one of the truest 
hearts in the world ! " 

The Captain was greatly relieved by this reply, and expressed 
his satisfaction by taking off his hard glazed hat, and dabbing 
his head all over with his handkerchief, rolled up like a ball, 
observing several times, with infinite complacency, and with 
a beaming countenance, that he know'd it. 



FLORENCE'S BOWER. 285 

" So you're quiet now, are you, brother ? " said the Captain 
to Diogenes. " There warn't nobody there, my lady lass, bless 
you ! " 

Diogenes was not so sure of that. The door still had an 
attraction for him at intervals ; and he went snuffing about 
it, and growling to himself, unable to forget the subject. This 
incident, coupled with the Captain's observation of Florence's 
fatigue and faintness, decided him to prepare Sol Gills's 
chamber as a place of retirement for her immediately. He 
therefore hastily betook himself to the top of the house, and 
made the best arrangement of it that his imagination and his 
means suggested. 

It was very clean already ; and the Captain being an orderly 
man, and accustomed to make things ship-shape, converted the 
bed into a couch, by covering it all over with a clean white 
drapery. By a similar contrivance, the Captain converted the 
little dressing-table into a species of altar, on which he set 
forth two silver teaspoons, a flower-pot, a telescope, his cele 
brated watch, a pocket-comb, and a song-book, as a small 
collection of rarities, that made a choice appearance. Having 
darkened the window, and straightened the pieces of carpet 
on the floor, the Captain surveyed these preparations with 
great delight, and descended to the little parlour again, to 
bring Florence to her bower. 

Nothing would induce the Captain to believe that it was 
possible for Florence to walk up stairs. If he could have 
got the idea into his head, he would have considered it 
an outrageous breach of hospitality to allow her to do so. 
Florence was too weak to dispute the point, and the Captain 
carried her up out of hand, laid her down, and covered her 
with a great watch-coat. 

" My lady lass ! " said the Captain, " you're as safe here as 
if you was at the top of St. Paul's Cathedral, with the ladder 
cast off. Sleep is what you want, afore all other things, and 
may you be able to show yourself smart with that there 
balsam for the still small woice of a wownded mind ! When 



286 DOMBEY AND SON. 

there's anything you want, my Heart's Delight, as this here 
humble house or town can offer, pass the word to Ed'ard 
Cuttle, as'll stand off and on outside that door, and that there 
man will wibrate with joy." The Captain concluded by kissing 
the hand that Florence stretched out to him, with the chivalry 
of any old knight-errant, and walking on tip-toe out of the 
room. 

Descending to the little parlour, Captain Cuttle, after hold 
ing a hasty council with himself, decided to open the shop- 
door for a few minutes, and satisfy himself that now, at all 
events, there was no one loitering about it. Accordingly he 
set it open, and stood upon the threshold, keeping a bright 
look-out, and sweeping the whole street with his spectacles. 

" How de do, Captain Gills ? " said a voice beside him. The 
Captain, looking down, found that he had been boarded by 
Mr. Toots while sweeping the horizon. 

" How are you, my lad ? " replied the Captain. 

"Well, I'm pretty well, thank'ee. Captain Gills, 11 said Mr. 
Toots. " You know I'm never quite what I could wish to be, 
now. I don't expect that I ever shall be any more." 

Mr. Toots never approached any nearer than this to the 
great theme of his life, when in conversation with Captain 
Cuttle, on account of the agreement between them. 

"Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, "if I could have the 
pleasure of a word with you, it's it's rather particular." 

"Why, you see, my lad," replied the Captain, leading the 
way into the parlour, " I an't what you may call exactly free 
this morning ; and therefore if you can clap on a bit, I should 
take it kindly." 

"Certainly, Captain Gills," replied Mr. Toots, who seldom 
had any notion of the Captain's meaning. "To clap on, is 
exactly what I could wish to do. Naturally." 

" If so be, my lad," returned the Captain, " do it ! " 

The Captain was so impressed by the possession of his 
tremendous secret by the fact of Miss Dombey being at that 
moment under his roof, while the innocent and unconscious 



MR. TOOTS ON AN EMBASSY. 287 

Toots sat opposite to him that a perspiration broke out on 
his forehead, and he found it impossible while slowly drying 
the same, glazed hat in hand, to keep his eyes off Mr. Toots's 
face. Mr. Toots, who himself appeared to have some secret 
reasons for being in a nervous state, was so unspeakably 
disconcerted by the Captain's stare, that after looking at him 
vacantly for some time in silence, and shifting uneasily on his 
chair, he said : 

"I beg your pardon, Captain Gills, but you don't happen 
to see anything particular in me, do you ? " 

" No, my lad," returned the Captain. " No." 

"Because you know," said Mr. Toots with a chuckle, "I 
KNOW I'm wasting away. You needn't at all mind alluding to 
that. I I should like it. Burgess and Co. have altered my 
measure, I'm in that state of thinness. It's a gratification 
to me. I I'm glad of it. I I'd a great deal rather go into 
a decline, if I could. I'm a mere brute you know, grazing 
upon the surface of the earth, Captain Gills." 

The more Mr. Toots went on in this way, the more the 
Captain was weighed down by his secret, and stared at 
him. What with this cause of uneasiness, and his desire 
to get rid of Mr. Toots, the Captain was in such a scared 
and strange condition, indeed, that if he had been in conver 
sation with a ghost, he could hardly have evinced greater 
discomposure. 

"But I was going to say, Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots. 
" Happening to be this way early this morning to tell you 
the truth, I was coming to breakfast with you. As to sleep, 
you know, I never sleep now. I might be a Watchman, 
except that I don't get any pay, and he's got nothing on 
his mind." 

"Carry on, my lad!" said the Captain, in an admonitory 
voice. 

"Certainly, Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots. "Perfectly 
true ! Happening to be this way early this morning (an hour 
or so ago), and finding the door shut 



288 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" What ! were you waiting there, brother ? " demanded the 
Captain. 

"Not at all, Captain Gills, 11 returned Mr. Toots. "I 
didn't stop a moment. I thought you were out. But the 
person said by the bye you dorft keep a dog, do you, 
Captain Gills? 1 ' 

The Captain shook his head. 

" To be sure, 11 said Mr. Toots, " that's exactly what I said. 
I knew you didn't. There is a dog, Captain Gills, connected 
with but excuse me. That's forbidden ground." 

The Captain stared at Mr. Toots until he seemed to swell 
to twice his natural size; and again the perspiration broke 
out on the Captain's forehead, when he thought of Diogenes 
taking it into his head to come down and make a third in 
the parlour. 

"The person said," continued Mr. Toots, "that he had 
heard a dog barking in the shop : which I knew couldn't be, 
and I told him so. But he was as positive as if he had seen 
the dog." 

"What person, my lad?" inquired the Captain. 

"Why, you see there it is, Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, 
with a perceptible increase in the nervousness of his manner. 
"It's not for me to say what may have taken place, or what 
may not have taken place. Indeed, I don't know. I get mixed 
up with all sorts of things that I don't quite understand, and 
I think there's something rather weak in my in my head, 
in short." 

The Captain nodded his own, as a mark of assent. 

" But the person said, as we were walking away," continued 
Mr. Toots, " that you knew what, under existing circumstances, 
might occur he said * might, 1 very strongly and that if you 
were requested to prepare yourself, you would, no doubt, come 
prepared. 11 

" Person, my lad ! " the Captain repeated. 

" I don't know what person, I'm sure, Captain Gills," replied 
Mr. Toots, "I haven't the least idea. But coming to the 



IMPORTANT BUSINESS. 

door, I found him waiting there ; and he said was I coming 
back again, and I said yes ; and he said did I know you, and 
I said yes, I had the pleasure of your acquaintance you had 
given me the pleasure of your acquaintance, after some per 
suasion ; and he said, if that was the case, would I say to you 
what I have said, about existing circumstances and coming 
prepared, and as soon as ever I saw you, would I ask you to 
step round the corner, if it was only for one minute, on most 
important business, to Mr. Brogley's the Broker's. Now, I 
tell you what, Captain Gills whatever it is, I am convinced 
it's very important; and if you like to step round, now, I'll 
wait here till you come back." 

The Captain, divided between his fear of compromising 
Florence in some way by not going, and his horror of leaving 
Mr. Toots in possession of the house with a chance of finding 
out the secret, was a spectacle of mental disturbance that even 
Mr. Toots could not be blind to. But that young gentle 
man, considering his nautical friend as merely in a state of 
preparation for the interview he was going to have, was 
quite satisfied, and did not review his own discreet conduct 
without chuckles. 

At length the Captain decided, as the lesser of two evils, 
to run round to Brogley's the Broker's : previously locking the 
door that communicated with the upper part of the house, 
and putting the key in his pocket. "If so be," said the 
Captain to Mr. Toots, with not a little shame and hesitation, 
" as you'll excuse my doing of it, brother." 

" Captain Gills," returned Mr. Toots, " whatever you do, is 
satisfactory to me." 

The Captain thanked him heartily, and promising to come 
back in less than five minutes, went out in quest of the person 
who had intrusted Mr. Toots with this mysterious message. 
Poor Mr. Toots, left to himself, lay down upon the sofa, little 
thinking who had reclined there last, and, gazing up at the 
skylight and resigning himself to visions of Miss Dombey,, 
lost all heed of time and place. 

VOL. n. u 



290 DOMBEY AND SON. 

It was as well that he did so ; for although the Captain was 
not gone long, he was gone much longer than he had proposed. 
When he came back, he was very pale indeed, and greatly 
agitated, and even looked as if he had been shedding tears. 
He seemed to have lost the faculty of speech, until he had 
been to the cupboard and taken a dram of rum from the 
case-bottle, when he fetched a deep breath, and sat down 
in a chair with his hand before his face. 

"Captain Gills," said Toots, kindly, "I hope and trust 
there's nothing wrong?" 

"Thank'ee, my lad, not a bit," said the Captain. "Quite 
contrary." 

" You have the appearance of being overcome, Captain Gills," 
observed Mr. Toots. 

"Why, my lad, I am took aback," the Captain admitted. 
"I am." 

" Is there anything I can do, Captain Gills ? " inquired Mr. 
Toots. " If there is, make use of me." 

The Captain removed his hand from his face, looked at him 
with a remarkable expression of pity and tenderness, and took 
him by the hand and shook it hard. 

"No, thankee," said the Captain. "Nothing. Only I'll 
take it as a favour if you'll part company for the present. I 
believe, brother," wringing his hand again, " that, after 
Wal'r, and on a different model, you're as good a lad as 
ever stepped." 

" Upon my word and honour, Captain Gills," returned Mr. 
Toots, giving the Captain's hand a preliminary slap before 
shaking it again, "it's delightful to me to possess your good 
opinion. Thank'ee." 

" And bear a hand and cheer up," said the Captain, patting 
him on the back. "What! There's more than one sweet 
creetur in the world ! " 

"Not to me, Captain Gills," replied Mr. Toots gravely. 
" Not to me, I assure you. The state of my feelings towards 
Miss Dombey is of that unspeakable description, that my heart 



GENTLENESS OF CAPTAIN CUTTLE. 291 

is a desert island, and she lives in it alone. I'm getting more 
used up every day, and I'm proud to be so. If you could see 
my legs when I take my boots off, you'd form some idea of 
what unrequited affection is. I have been prescribed bark, 
but I don't take it, for I don't wish to have any tone whatever 
given to my constitution. I'd rather not. This, however, is 
forbidden ground. Captain Gills, good-bye ! " 

Captain Cuttle cordially reciprocating the warmth of Mr. 
Toots's farewell, locked the door behind him, and shaking his 
head with the same remarkable expression of pity and tenderness 
as he had regarded him with before, went up to see if Florence 
wanted him. 

There was an entire change in the Captain's face as he went 
up stairs. He wiped his eyes with his handkerchief, and he 
polished the bridge of his nose with his sleeve as he had done 
already that morning, but his face was absolutely changed. 
Now, he might have been thought supremely happy ; now, he 
might have been thought sad ; but the kind of gravity that sat 
upon his features was quite new to them, and was as great 
an improvement to them as if they had undergone some 
sublimating process. 

He knocked softly, with his hook, at Florence's door, twice 
or thrice ; but, receiving no answer, ventured first to peep in, 
and then to enter : emboldened to take the latter step, perhaps, 
by the familiar recognition of Diogenes, who, stretched upon 
the ground by the side of her couch, wagged his tail, and 
winked his eyes at the Captain, without being at the trouble 
of getting up. 

She was sleeping heavily, and moaning in her sleep; and 
Captain Cuttle, with a perfect awe of her youth and beauty, 
and her sorrow, raised her head, and adjusted the coat that 
covered her, where it had fallen off, and darkened the window 
a little more that she might sleep on, and crept out again, 
and took his post of watch upon the stairs. All this, with a 
touch and tread as light as Florence's own. 

Long may it remain in this mixed world a point not easy 



292 DOMBEY AND SON. 

of decision, which is the more beautiful evidence of the 
Almighty's goodness the delicate fingers that are formed 
for sensitiveness and sympathy of touch, and made to minister 
to pain and grief, or the rough hard Captain Cuttle hand, 
that the heart teaches, guides, and softens in a moment! 

Florence slept upon her couch, forgetful of her homelessness 
and orphanage, and Captain Cuttle watched upon the stairs. 
A louder sob or moan than usual, brought him sometimes to 
her door ; but by degrees she slept more peacefully, and the 
Captain's watch was undisturbed. 



CHAPTER XLIX. 

THE MIDSHIPMAN MAKES A DISCOVERY. 

IT was long before Florence awoke. The day was in its prime, 
the day was in its wane, and still, uneasy in mind and body, 
she slept on ; unconscious of her strange bed, of the noise and 
turmoil in the street, and of the light that shone outside the 
shaded window. Perfect unconsciousness of what had happened 
in the home that existed no more, even the deep slumber of 
exhaustion could not produce. Some undefined and mournful 
recollection of it, dozing uneasily but never sleeping, pervaded 
all her rest. A dull sorrow, like a half-lulled sense of pain, 
was always present to her; and her pale cheek was oftener 
wet with tears than the honest Captain, softly putting in his 
head from time to time at the half-closed door, could have 
desired to see it. 

The sun was getting low in the west, and, glancing out of 
a red mist, pierced with its rays opposite loop-holes and pieces 
of fret-work in the spires of city churches, as if with golden 
arrows that struck through and through them and far away 
athwart the river and its flat banks, it was gleaming like a 
path of fire and out at sea it was irradiating sails of ships 
and, looked towards, from quiet churchyards, upon hill-tops 
in the country, it was steeping distant prospects in a flush 
and glow that seemed to mingle earth and sky together in one 
glorious suffusion when Florence, opening her heavy eyes, 
lay at first, looking without interest or recognition at the 



294 DOMBEY AND SON. 

unfamiliar walls around her, and listening in the same regard 
less manner to the noises in the street. But presently she 
started up upon her couch, gazed round with a surprised and 
vacant look, and recollected all. 

"My pretty," said the Captain, knocking at the door, 
" what cheer ! " 

" Dear friend," cried Florence, hurrying to him, " is it 
you?" 

The Captain felt so much pride in the name, and was so 
pleased by the gleam of pleasure in her face, when she saw 
him, that he kissed his hook, by way of reply, in speechless 
gratification. 

" What cheer, bright diamond ! " said the Captain. 

" I have surely slept very long," returned Florence. " When 
did I come here ? Yesterday ? " 

" This here blessed day, my lady lass," replied the Captain. 

"Has there been no night? Is it still day?" asked 
Florence. 

" Getting on for evening now, my pretty," said the Captain*, 
drawing back the curtain of the window. " See ! " 

Florence, with her hand upon the Captain's arm, so 
sorrowful and timid, and the Captain with his rough face 
and burly figure, so quietly protective of her, stood in the 
rosy light of the bright evening sky, without saying a word. 
However strange the form of speech into which he might 
have fashioned the feeling, if he had had to give it utter 
ance, the Captain felt, as sensibly as the most eloquent of 
men could have done, that there was something in the 
tranquil time and in its softened beauty that would make the 
wounded heart of Florence overflow; and that it was better 
that such tears should have their way. So not a word spake 
Captain Cuttle. But when he felt his arm clasped closer, 
and when he felt the lonely head come nearer to it, and 
lay itself against his homely coarse blue sleeve, he pressed 
it gently with his rugged hand, and understood it, and was 
understood. 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE AS SHIPS COOK. 295 

" Better now, my pretty ! " said the Captain. " Cheerily, 
cheerily ; I'll go down below, and get some dinner ready. Will 
you come down of your own self, arterwards, pretty, or shall 
Ed'ard Cuttle come and fetch you?" 

As Florence assured him that she was quite able to walk 
down stairs, the Captain, though evidently doubtful of his 
own hospitality in permitting it, left her to do so, and 
immediately set about roasting a fowl at the fire in the little 
parlour. To achieve his cookery with the greater skill, he 
pulled off his coat, tucked up his wristbands, and put on his 
glazed hat, without which assistant he never applied himself 
to any nice or difficult undertaking. 

After cooling her aching head and burning face in the 
fresh water which the Captain's care had provided for her 
while she slept, Florence went to the little mirror to bind 
up her disordered hair. Then she knew in a moment, for 
she shunned it instantly that on her breast there was the 
darkening mark of an angry hand. 

Her tears burst forth afresh at the sight ; she was ashamed 
and afraid of it; but it moved her to no anger against him. 
Homeless and fatherless, she forgave him everything ; hardly 
thought that she had need to forgive him, or that she did ; 
but she fled from the idea of him as she had fled from the 
reality, and he was utterly gone and lost. There was no 
such Being in the world. 

What to do, or where to live, Florence poor, inexperienced 
girl ! could not yet consider. She had indistinct dreams of 
finding, a long way off, some little sisters to instruct, who 
would be gentle with her, and to whom, under some feigned 
name, she might attach herself, and who would grow up in 
their happy home, and marry, and be good to their old 
governess, and perhaps intrust her, in time, with the educa 
tion of their own daughters. And she thought how strange 
and sorrowful it would be, thus to become a grey-haired 
woman, carrying her secret to the grave, when Florence 
Dombey was forgotten. But it was all dim and clouded to 



206 DOMBEY AND SON. 

her now. She only knew that she had no Father upon earth, 
and she said so, many times, with her suppliant head hidden 
from all, but her Father who was in Heaven. 

Her little stock of money amounted to but a few guineas. 
With a part of this, it would be necessary to buy some 
clothes, for she had none but those she wore. She was too 
desolate to think how soon her money would be gone too 
much a child in worldly matters to be greatly troubled on 
that score yet, even if her other trouble had been less. She 
tried to calm her thoughts and stay her tears; to quiet the 
hurry in her throbbing head, and bring herself to believe 
that what had happened were but the events of a few hours 
ago, instead of weeks or months, as they appeared ; and went 
down to her kind protector. 

The Captain had spread the cloth with great care, and was 
making some egg-sauce in a little saucepan : basting the fowl 
from time to time during the process with a strong interest, 
as it turned and browned on a string before the fire. Having 
propped Florence up with cushions on the sofa, which was 
already wheeled into a warm corner for her greater comfort, 
the Captain pursued his cooking with extraordinary skill, 
making hot gravy in a second little saucepan, boiling a 
handful of potatoes in a third, never forgetting the egg-sauce 
in the first, and making an impartial round of basting and 
stirring with the most useful of spoons every minute. Besides 
these cares, the Captain had to keep his eye on a diminutive 
frying-pan, in which some sausages were hissing and bubbling 
in a most musical manner ; and there was never such a 
radiant cook as the Captain looked, in the height and heat 
of these functions : it being impossible to say whether his face 
or his glazed hat shone the brighter. 

The dinner being at length quite ready, Captain Cuttle 
dished and served it up, with no less dexterity than he had 
cooked it. He then dressed for dinner, by taking off his 
glazed hat and putting on his coat. That done, he wheeled 
the table close against Florence on the sofa, said grace, 



A TEMPTING REPAST. 297 

unscrewed his hook, screwed his fork into its place, and did 
the honours of the table. 

"My lady lass," said the Captain, "cheer up, and try to 
eat a deal. Stand by, my deary ! Liver wing it is. Sarse 
it is. Sassage it is. And potato ! " all which the Captain 
ranged symmetrically on a plate, and pouring hot gravy on 
the whole with the useful spoon, set before his cherished 
guest. 

"The whole row o' dead lights is up, for'ard, lady lass, 11 
observed the Captain, encouragingly, " and everythink is 
made snug. Try and pick a bit, my pretty. If Wal'r 
was here " 

" Ah ! If I had him for my brother now ! " cried Florence. 

" Don't ! don't take on, my pretty ! " said the Captain, 
" awast to obleege me ! He was your nat'ral born friend 
like, wanTt he, Pet ? " 

Florence had no words to answer with. She only said, 
" Oh, dear, dear Paul ! oh, Walter ! " 

" The wery planks she walked on,"" murmured the Captain, 
looking at her drooping face, "was as high esteemed by 
Wal'r, as the water brooks is by the hart which never 
rejices ! I see him now, the wery day as he was rated on 
them Dombey books, a speaking of her with his face a 
glistening with doo leastways with his modest sentiments 
like a new blowed rose, at dinner. Well, well ! If our poor 
Wal'r was here, my lady lass or if he could be for he's 
drownded, an't he ? " 

Florence shook her head. 

" Yes, yes ; drownded," said the Captain, soothingly ; " as 
I was saying, if he could be here he'd beg and pray of you, 
my precious, to pick a leetle bit, with a look-out for your 
own sweet health. Whereby, hold your own, my lady lass, 
as if it was for Wal'r's sake, and lay your pretty head to 
the wind." 

Florence essayed to eat a morsel, for the Captain's pleasure. 
The Captain, meanwhile, who seemed to have quite forgotten 



298 DOMBEY AND SON. 

his own dinner, laid down his knife and fork, and drew his 
chair to the sofa. 

"WaFr was a trim lad, warn't he, precious?" said the 
Captain, after sitting for some time silently rubbing his 
chin, with his eyes fixed upon her, " and a brave lad, and a 
good lad? 11 

Florence tearfully assented. 

" And he's drownded, Beauty, an't he ? " said the Captain, 
in a soothing voice. 

Florence could not but assent again. 

"He was older than you, my lady lass," pursued the 
Captain, "but you Avas like two children together, at first; 
warn't you ? " 

Florence answered "Yes." 

"And WalYs drownded," said the Captain. " An't he?" 

The repetition of this inquiry was a curious source of 
consolation, but it seemed to be one to Captain Cuttle, for 
he came back to it again and again. Florence, fain to push 
from her her untasted dinner, and to lie back on her sofa, 
gave him her hand, feeling that she had disappointed him, 
though truly wishing to have pleased him after all his trouble, 
but he held it in his own (which shook as he held it), and 
appearing to have quite forgotten all about the dinner and 
her want of appetite, went on growling at intervals, in a 
ruminating tone of sympathy, " Poor Wal'r. Aye, aye ! 
Drownded. An"t he?" And always waited for her answer, 
in which the great point of these singular reflections appeared 
to consist. 

The fowl and sausages were cold, and the gravy and the 
egg-sauce stagnant, before the Captain remembered that they 
were on the board, and fell to with the assistance of Diogenes, 
whose united efforts quickly dispatched the banquet. The 
Captain's delight and wonder at the quiet housewifery of 
Florence in assisting to clear the table, arrange the parlour, 
and sweep up the hearth only to be equalled by the fervency 
of his protest when she began to assist him were gradually 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE SMOKES AND MUSES. 299 

raised to that degree, that at last he could not choose but do 
nothing himself, and stand looking at her as if she were some 
Fairy, daintily performing these offices for him ; the red rim 
on his forehead glowing again, in his unspeakable admiration. 
But when Florence, taking down his pipe from the mantel 
shelf gave it into his hand, and entreated him to smoke it, 
the good Captain was so bewildered by her attention that he 
held it as if he had never held a pipe in all his life. Like 
wise, when Florence, looking into the little cupboard, took 
out the case-bottle and mixed a perfect glass of grog for him, 
unasked, and set it at his elbow, his ruddy nose turned pale, 
he felt himself so graced and honoured. When he had filled 
his pipe in an absolute reverie of satisfaction, Florence lighted 
it for him the Captain having no power to object, or to 
prevent her and resuming her place on the old sofa, looked 
at him with a smile so loving and so grateful, a smile that 
showed him so plainly how her forlorn heart turned to him, 
as her face did, through grief, that the smoke of the pipe got 
into the Captain's throat and made him cough, and got into 
the Captain's eyes, and made them blink and water. 

The manner in which the Captain tried to make believe 
that the cause of these effects lay hidden in the pipe itself, 
and the way in which he looked into the bowl for it, and 
not finding it there, pretended to blow it out of the stem, 
was wonderfully pleasant. The pipe soon getting into better 
condition, he fell into that state of repose becoming a good 
smoker ; but sat with his eyes fixed on Florence, and, with a 
beaming placidity not to be described, and stopping every 
now and then to discharge a little cloud from his lips, slowly 
puffed it forth, as if it were a scroll coming out of his mouth, 
bearing the legend "Poor Wal'r, aye, aye. Drownded, an't 
he?" after which he would resume his smoking with infinite 
gentleness. 

Unlike as they were externally and there could scarcely be 
a more decided contrast than between Florence in her delicate 
youth and beauty, and Captain Cuttle with his knobby face, 



300 DOMBEY AND SON. 

his great broad weather-beaten person, and his gruff voice 
in simple innocence of the world's ways and the world's 
perplexities and dangers, they were nearly on a level. No 
child could have surpassed Captain Cuttle in inexperience of 
everything but wind and weather; in simplicity, credulity, 
and generous trustfulness. Faith, hope, and charity* shared 
his whole nature among them. An odd sort of romance, 
perfectly unimaginative, yet perfectly unreal, and subject to 
no considerations of worldly prudence or practicability, was 
the only partner they had in his character. As the Captain 
sat, and smoked, and looked at Florence, God knows what 
impossible pictures, in which she was the principal figure, 
presented themselves to his mind. Equally vague and un 
certain, though not so sanguine, were her own thoughts of 
the life before her; and even as her tears made prismatic 
colours in the light she gazed at, so, through her new and 
heavy grief, she already saw a rainbow faintly shining in the 
far-off sky. A wandering princess and a good monster in 
a story-book might have sat by the fireside, and talked as 
Captain Cuttle and poor Florence thought and not have 
looked very much unlike them. 

The Captain was not troubled with the faintest idea of 
any difficulty in retaining Florence, or of any responsibility 
thereby incurred. Having put up the shutters and locked 
the door, he was quite satisfied on this head. If she had 
been a Ward in Chancery, it would have made no difference 
at all to Captain Cuttle. He was the last man in the world 
to be troubled by any such considerations. 

So the Captain smoked his pipe very comfortably, and 
Florence and he meditated after their own manner. When 
the pipe was out, they had some tea; and then Florence 
entreated him to take her to some neighbouring shop, where 
she could buy the few necessaries she immediately wanted. 
It being quite dark, the Captain consented : peeping carefully 
out firsfy as he had been wont to do in his time of hiding 
from Mrs. MacStinger; and arming himself with his large 



SHOPPING. 301 

stick, in case of an appeal to arms being rendered necessary 
by any unforeseen circumstance. 

The pride Captain Cuttle had, in giving his arm to 
Florence, and escorting her some two or three hundred yards, 
keeping a bright look-out all the time, and attracting the 
attention of every one who passed them, by his great 
vigilance and numerous precautions, was extreme. Arrived 
at the shop, the Captain felt it a point of delicacy to retire 
during the making of the purchases, as they were to consist 
of wearing apparel; but he previously deposited his tin 
canister on the counter, and informing the young lady of the 
establishment that it contained fourteen pound two, requested 
her, in case that amount of property should not be sufficient 
to defray the expenses of his niece's little outfit at the word 
"niece," he bestowed a most significant look on Florence, 
accompanied with pantomime, expressive of sagacity and 
mystery to have the goodness to " sing out," and he would 
make up the difference from his pocket. Casually consulting 
his big watch, as a deep means of dazzling the establishment, 
and impressing it with a sense of property, the Captain then 
kissed his hook to his. niece, and retired outside the window, 
where it was a choice sight to see his great face looking in 
from time to time, among the silks and ribbons, with an 
obvious misgiving that Florence had been spirited away by 
a back door. 

"Dear Captain Cuttle," said Florence, when she came out 
with a parcel, the size of which greatly disappointed the 
Captain, who had expected to see a porter following with a 
bale of goods, "I don't want this money, indeed. I have 
not spent any of it. I have money of my own." 

"My lady lass," returned the baffled Captain, looking 
straight down the street before them, "take care on it for 
me, will you be so good, till such time as I ask ye for it ? " 

"May I put it back in its usual place," said Florence, 
" and keep it there ? " 

The Captain was not at all gratified by this proposal, but 



302 DOMBEY AND SON. 

he answered, "Aye, aye, put it anywheres, my lady lass, so 
long as you know where to find it again. It an't o' no use to 
me? said the Captain. " I wonder I haven't chucked it away 
afore now." 

The Captain was quite disheartened for the moment, but he 
revived at the first touch of Florence's arm, and they returned 
with the same precautions as they had come; the Captain 
opening the door of the little Midshipman's berth, and diving 
in, with a suddenness which his great practice only could have 
taught him. During Florence's slumber in the morning, he 
had engaged the daughter of an elderly lady, who usually sat 
under a blue umbrella in Leadenhall Market, selling poultry, 
to come and put her room in order, and render her any little 
services she required ; and this damsel now appearing, Florence 
found everything about her as convenient and orderly, if not 
as handsome, as in the terrible dream she had once called 
Home. 

When they were alone again, the Captain insisted on her 
eating a slice of dry toast, and drinking a glass of spiced 
negus (which he made to perfection); and, encouraging her 
with every kind word and inconsequential quotation he could 
possibly think of, led her up stairs to her bedroom. But he 
too had something on his mind, and was not easy in his 
manner. 

"Good night, dear heart, 1 ' said Captain Cuttle to her at 
her chamber-door. 

Florence raised her lips to his face, and kissed him. 

At any other time the Captain would have been over 
balanced by such a token of her affection and gratitude; 
but now, although he was very sensible of it, he looked in 
her face with even more uneasiness than he had testified 
before, and seemed unwilling to leave her. 

"PoorWal'r!" said the Captain. 

" Poor, poor Walter ! " sighed Florence. 

"Drownded, an't he?" said the Captain. 

Florence shook her head, and sighed. 



POOR DROWNED WALTER. 303 

" Good night, my lady lass ! " said Captain Cuttle, putting 
out his hand. 

" God bless you, dear, kind friend ! " 

But the Captain lingered still. 

"Is anything the matter, dear Captain Cuttle?" said 
Florence, easily alarmed in her then state of mind. " Have 
you anything to tell me ? " 

"To tell you, lady lass!" replied the Captain, meeting 
'her eyes in confusion. " No, no ; what should I have to tell 
you, pretty ! You don't expect as I've got anything good 
to tell you, sure?" 

" No ! " said Florence, shaking her head. 

The Captain looked at her wistfully, and repeated " No," 
still lingering, and still showing embarrassment. 

" Poor WaTr ! " said the Captain. " My Wal'r, as I used 
to call you! Old Sol Gills's nevy! Welcome to all as 
knowed you, as the flowers in May! Where are you got 
to, brave boy ! Drownded, an't he ? " 

Concluding his apostrophe with this abrupt appeal to 
Florence, the Captain bade her good night, and descended 
the stairs, while Florence remained at the top, holding the 
candle out to light him down. He was lost in the obscurity, 
and, judging from the sound of his receding footsteps, was 
in the act of turning into the little parlour, when his head 
and shoulders unexpectedly emerged again, as from the deep, 
apparently for no other purpose than to repeat, "Drownded, 
an't he, pretty?" For when he had said that in a tone of 
tender condolence, he disappeared. 

Florence was very sorry that she should unwittingly, though 
naturally, have awakened these associations in the mind of 
her protector, by taking refuge there; and sitting down 
before the little table where the Captain had arranged the 
telescope and song-book, and those other rarities, thought of 
Walter, and of all that was connected with him in the past, 
until she could have almost wished to lie down on her bed 
and fade away. But in her lonely yearning to the dead 



304 DOMBEY AND SON. 

whom she had loved, no thought of home no possibility 
of going back no presentation of it as yet existing, or as 
sheltering her father once entered her thoughts. She had 
seen the murder done. In the last lingering natural aspect 
in which she had cherished him through so much, he had 
been torn out of her heart, defaced, and slain. The thought 
of it was so appalling to her, that she covered her eyes, and 
shrunk trembling from the least remembrance of the deed, 
or of the cruel hand that did it. If her fond heart could 
have held his image after that, it must have broken ; but it 
could not; and the void was filled with a wild dread that 
fled from all confronting with its shattered fragments with 
such a dread as could have risen out of nothing but the 
depths of such a love, so wronged. 

She dared not look into the glass ; for the sight of the 
darkening mark upon her bosom made her afraid of herself? 
as if she bore about her something wicked. She covered it 
up, with a hasty, faltering hand, and in the dark ; and laid 
her weary head down, weeping. 

The Captain did not go to bed for a long time. He 
walked to and fro in the shop and in the little parlour, for 
a full hour, and, appearing to have composed himself by that 
exercise, sat down with a grave and thoughtful face, and 
read out of a Prayer-book the forms of prayer appointed to 
be used at sea. These were not easily disposed of; the good 
Captain being a mighty slow, gruff reader, and frequently 
stopping at a hard word to give himself such encouragement as 
"Now, my lad! With a will!" or, "Steady, Ed'ard Cuttle, 
steady ! " which had a great effect in helping him out of any 
difficulty. Moreover, his spectacles greatly interfered with his 
powers of vision. But notwithstanding these drawbacks, the 
Captain, being heartily in earnest, read the service to the very 
last line, and with genuine feeling too ; and approving of it 
very much when he had done, turned in under the counter (but 
not before he had been up stairs, and listened at Florence's 
door), with a serene breast, and a most benevolent visage. 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE DROPS ANCHOR. 305 

The Captain turned out several times in the course of the 
night, to assure himself that his charge was resting quietly; 
and once, at daybreak, found that she was awake : for she 
called to know if it were he, on hearing footsteps near her 
door. 

"Yes, my lady lass,"" replied the Captain, in a growling 
whisper. " Are you all right, diamond ? " 

Florence thanked him, and said "Yes/ 1 

The Captain could not lose so favourable an opportunity 
of applying his mouth to the keyhole, and calling through it, 
like a hoarse breeze, " Poor Wal'r ! Drownded, aiVt he ? " 
After which he withdrew, and turning in again, slept till 
seven o'clock. 

Nor was he free from his uneasy and embarrassed manner 
all that day; though Florence, being busy with her needle 
in the little parlour, was more calm and tranquil than she 
had been on the day preceding. Almost always when she 
raised her eyes from her work, she observed the Captain 
looking at her, and thoughtfully stroking his chin ; and he so 
often hitched his arm-chair close to her, as if he were going 
to say something very confidential, and hitched it away again, 
as not being able to make up his mind how to begin, that 
in the course of the day he cruised completely round the 
parlour in that frail bark, and more than once went ashore 
against the wainscot or the closet door, in a very distressed 
condition. 

It was not until the twilight that Captain Cuttle, fairly 
dropping anchor, at last, by the side of Florence, began to 
talk at all connectedly. But when the light of the fire was 
shining on the walls and ceiling of the little room, and on 
the tea-board and the cups and saucers that were ranged upon 
the table, and on her calm face turned towards the flame, 
and reflecting it in the tears that filled her eyes, the Captain 
broke a long silence thus : 

" You never was at sea, my own ? " 

"No," replied Florence. 

VOL. ii. x 



306 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Aye," said the Captain, reverentially; "it's a almighty 
element. There's wonders in the deep, my pretty. Think on 
it when the winds is roaring and the waves is rowling. Think 
on it when the stormy nights is so pitch dark," said the 
Captain, solemnly holding up his hook, " as you can't see your 
hand afore you, excepting when the wiwid lightning reweals 
the same ; and when you drive, drive, drive through the storm 
and dark, as if you was a driving, head on, to the world 
without end, evermore, amen, and when found making a note 
of. Them's the times, my beauty, when a man may say to 
his messmate (previously a overhauling of the wollume), 'A 
stiff nor'-wester's blowing, Bill ; hark, don't you hear it roar 
now ! Lord help 'em, how I pitys all unhappy folks ashore 
now ! ' " Which quotation, as particularly applicable to the 
terrors of the ocean, the Captain delivered in a most impressive 
manner, concluding with a sonorous " Stand by ! " 

" Were you ever in a dreadful storm ? " asked Florence. 

" Why aye, my lady lass, I've seen my share of bad weather," 
said the Captain, tremulously wiping his head, "and I've 
had my share of knocking about ; but but it an't of myself 
as I was a meaning to speak. Our dear boy," drawing closer 
to her, "Wal'r, darling, as was drownded." 

The Captain spoke in such a trembling voice, and looked 
at Florence Avith a face so pale and agitated, that she clung 
to his hand in affright. 

" Your face is changed," cried Florence. " You are altered 
in a moment. What is it? Dear Captain Cuttle, it turns 
me cold to see you ! " 

" What ! Lady lass," returned the Captain, supporting her 
with his hand, " don't be took aback. No, no ? All's well, 
all's well, my dear. As I was a saying Wal'r he's he's 
drownded. An't he ? " 

Florence looked at him intently; her colour came and 
went ; arid she laid her hand upon her breast. 

"There's perils and dangers on the deep, my beauty," said 
the Captain; "and over many a brave ship, and many and 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE'S STORY. 307 

many a bould heart, the secret waters has closed up, and 
never told no tales. But there's escapes upon the deep, too, 
and sometimes one man out of a score, ah ! maybe out of 
a hundred, pretty, has been saved by the mercy of God, and 
come home after being given over for dead, and told of all 
hands lost. I I know a story, Heart's Delight," stammered 
the Captain, "o' this natur, as was told to me once; and 
being on this here tack, and you and me sitting alone by 
the fire, maybe you'd like to hear me tell it. Would you, 
deary ? " 

Florence, trembling with an agitation which she could not 
control or understand, involuntarily followed his glance, which 
went behind her into the shop, where a lamp was burning. 
The instant that she turned her head, the Captain sprung out 
of his chair, and interposed his hand. 

"There's nothing there, my beauty," said the Captain. 
" Don't look there." 

" Why not ? " asked Florence. 

The Captain murmured something about its being dull 
that way, and about the fire being cheerful. He drew the 
door ajar, which had been standing open until now, and 
resumed his seat. Florence followed him with her eyes, and 
looked intently in his face. 

"The story was about a ship, my lady lass," began the 
Captain, "as sailed out of the Port of London, with a fair 
wind and in fair weather, bound for don't be took aback, 
my lady lass, she was only out'ard bound, pretty, only out'ard 
bound ! " 

The expression on Florence's face alarmed the Captain, who 
was himself very hot and flurried, and showed scarcely less 
agitation than she did. 

"Shall I go on, Beauty?" said the Captain. 

" Yes, yes, pray ! " cried Florence. 

The Captain made a gulp as if to get down something 
that was sticking in his throat, and nervously proceeded : 

" That there unfort'nate ship met with such foul weather, 



308 DOMBEY AND SON. 

out at sea, as don't blow once in twenty year, my darling. 
There was hurricanes ashore as tore up forests and blowed 
down towns, and there was gales at sea in them latitudes, as 
not the stoutest wessel ever launched could live in. Day 
arter day that there unfort'nate ship behaved noble, I'm told, 
and did her duty brave, my pretty, but at one blow a'most 
her bulwarks was stove in, her masts and rudder carried 
away, her best men swept overboard, and she left to the 
mercy of the storm as had no mercy but blowed harder and 
harder yet, while the waves dashed over her, and beat her in, 
and every time they come a thundering at her, broke her like 
a shell. Every black spot in every mountain of water that 
rolled away was a bit o' the ship's life or a living man, and 
so she went to pieces, Beauty, and no grass will never grow 
upon the graves of them as manned that ship." 

" They were not all lost ! " cried Florence. " Some were 
saved ! Was one ? " 

"Aboard o' that there unforfnate wessel," said the Captain, 
rising from his chair, and clenching his hand with prodigious 
energy and exultation, "was a lad, a gallant lad as Fve 
heerd tell that had loved, when he was a boy, to read and 
talk about brave actions in shipwrecks I've heerd him ! I've 
heerd him ! and he remembered of 'em in his hour of need ; 
for when the stoutest hearts and oldest hands was hove down, 
he was firm and cheery. It warn't the want of objects to like 
and love ashore that gave him courage, it was his nat'ral 
mind. I've seen it in his face, when he was no more than a 
child aye, many a time ! and when I thought it nothing 
but his good looks, bless him ! " 

" And was he saved ! " cried Florence. " Was he saved ! " 
" That brave lad," said the Captain, " look at me, pretty ! 
Don't look round " 

Florence had hardly power to repeat, "Why not?" 
" Because there's nothing there, my deary," said the Captain. 
"Don't be took aback, pretty creetur! Don't, for the sake 
of Wal'r, as was dear to all pn us ! That there lad," said 



THE STORY IS VERY EXCITING. 30J) 

the Captain, "arter working with the best, and standing by 
the faint-hearted, and never making no complaint nor sign 
of fear, and keeping up a spirit in all hands that made 'em 
honour him as if he'd been a admiral that lad, along with 
the second-mate and one seaman, was left, of all the beatin 1 
hearts that went aboard that ship, the only living creeturs 
lashed to a fragment of the wreck, and driftin 1 on the 
stormy sea. 11 

" Were they saved ! " cried Florence. 

"Days and nights they drifted on them endless waters," 11 
said the Captain, " until at last No ! Don't look that way, 
pretty ! a sail bore down upon "em, and they was, by the 
Lord's mercy, took aboard : two living and one dead. 11 
" Which of them was dead ? " cried Florence. 
"Not the lad I speak on, 11 said the Captain. 
"Thank God ! oh thank God I 11 

" Amen ! " returned the Captain hurriedly. " Don't be took 
aback ! A minute more, my lady lass ! with a good heart ! 
aboard that ship, they went a long voyage, right away across 
the chart (for there warn't no touching nowhere), and on that 
voyage the seaman as was picked up with him died. But he 

was spared, and " 

The Captain, without knowing what he did, had cut a slice 
of bread from the loaf, and put it on his hook (which was 
his usual toasting-fork), on which he now held it to the fire ; 
looking behind Florence with great emotion in his face, and 
suffering the bread to blaze and burn like fuel. 

"Was spared," repeated Florence, "and ?" 

"And come home in that ship, 11 said the Captain, still 
looking in the same direction, "and don't be frightened, 
pretty and landed ; and one morning come cautiously to his 
own door to take a obserwation, knowing that his friends 
would think him drownded, when he sheered off at the unex 
pected " 

" At the unexpected barking of a dog ? " cried Florence, 
quickly. 



310 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Yes," roared the Captain. " Steady, darling ! courage ! 
Don't look round yet. See there ! upon the wall ! " 

There was the shadow of a man upon the wall close to 
her. She started up, looked round, and with a piercing cry, 
saw Walter Gay behind her ! 

She had no thought of him but as a brother, a brother 
rescued from the grave; a shipwrecked brother saved and at 
her side ; and rushed into his arms. In all the world, he 
seemed to be her hope, her comfort, refuge, natural protector. 
" Take care of Walter, I was fond of Walter ! " The dear 
remembrance of the plaintive voice that said so, rushed upon 
her soul, like music in the night. "Oh welcome home, dear 
Walter! Welcome to this stricken breast!" She felt the 
words, although she could not utter them, and held him in 
her pure embrace. 

Captain Cuttle, in a fit of delirium, attempted to wipe his 
head with the blackened toast upon his hook : and finding 
it an uncongenial substance for the purpose, put it into the 
crown of his glazed hat, put the glazed hat on with some 
difficulty, essayed to sing a verse of Lovely Peg, broke down 
at the first word, and retired into the shop, whence he 
presently came back, express, with a face all flushed and 
besmeared, and the starch completely taken out of his shirt- 
collar, to say these words : 

" Wal'r, my lad, here is a little bit of property as I should 
wish to make over, jintly ! " 

The Captain hastily produced the big watch, the tea 
spoons, the sugar-tongs, and the canister, and laying them 
on the table, swept them with his great hand into Walter's 
hat; but in handing that singular strong box to Walter, 
he was so overcome again, that he was fain to make another 
retreat into the shop, and absent himself for a longer space 
of time than on his first retirement. 

But Walter sought him out, and brought him back ; and 
then the Captain's great apprehension was, that Florence would 
suffer from this new shock. He felt it so earnestly, that he 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE RADIANT. 311 

turned quite rational, and positively interdicted any further 
allusion to Walter's adventures for some days to come. Captain 
Cuttle then became sufficiently composed to relieve himself of 
the toast in his hat, and to take his place at the tea-board ; 
but finding Walter's grasp upon his shoulder, on one side, and 
Florence whispering her tearful congratulations on the other, 
the Captain suddenly bolted again, and was missing for a 
good ten minutes. 

But never in all his life had the Captain's face so shone 
and glistened, as when, at last, he sat stationary at the tea- 
board, looking from Florence to Walter, and from Walter to 
Florence. Nor was this effect produced or at all heightened 
by the immense quantity of polishing he had administered to 
his face with his coat-sleeve during the last half-hour. It was 
solely the effect of his internal emotions. There was a glory 
and delight within the Captain that spread itself over his 
whole visage, and made a perfect illumination there. 

The pride with which the Captain looked upon the bronzed 
cheek and the courageous eyes of his recovered boy; with 
which he saw the generous fervour of his youth, and all its 
frank and hopeful qualities, shining once more, in the fresji, 
wholesome manner, and the ardent face, would have kindled 
something of this light in his countenance. The admiration 
and sympathy with which he turned his eyes on Florence, 
whose beauty, grace, and innocence could have won no truer 
or more zealous champion than himself, would have had an 
equal influence upon him. But the fulness of the glow he 
shed around him could only have been engendered in his 
contemplation of the two together, and in all the fancies 
springing out of that association, that came sparkling and 
beaming into his head, and danced about it. 

How they talked of poor old Uncle Sol, and dwelt on every 
little circumstance relating to his disappearance; how their 
joy was moderated by the old man's absence and by the mis 
fortunes of Florence; how they released Diogenes, whom the 
Captain had decoyed up stairs some time before, lest he should 



DOMBEY AND SON 7 . 

bark again ; the Captain, though he was in one continual 
flutter, and made many more short plunges into the shop, fully 
comprehended. But he no more dreamed that Walter looked 
on Florence, as it were, from a new and far-off place ; that 
while his eyes often sought the lovely face, they seldom met 
its open glance of sisterly affection, but withdrew themselves 
when hers were raised towards him ; than he believed that it 
was Walter's ghost who sat beside him. He saw them there 
together in their youth and beauty, and he knew the story of 
their younger days, and he had no inch of room beneath his 
great blue waistcoat for anything save admiration of such a 
pair, and gratitude for their being re-united. 

They sat thus, until it grew late. The Captain would have 
been content to sit so for a week. But Walter rose, to take 
leave for the night. 

" Going, Walter ! " said Florence. " Where ? " 

" He slings his hammock for the present, lady lass," said 
Captain Cuttle, "round at Brogley's. Within hail, Heart's 
Delight." 

" I am the cause of your going away, Walter," said Florence. 
" There is a houseless sister in your place." 

"Dear Miss Dombey," replied Walter, hesitating "if it 
is not too bold to call you so ! " 

" Walter !" she exclaimed, surprised. 

" If anything could make me happier in being allowed to 
see and speak to you, would it not be the discovery that I 
had any means on earth of doing you a moment's service ! 
Where would I not go, what would I not do for your sake ? " 

She smiled, and called him brother. 

"You are so changed," said Walter 

" I changed ! " she interrupted. 

" To me," said Walter, softly, as if he were thinking aloud, 
" changed to me. I left you such a child, and find you oh ! 
something so different " 

"But your sister, Walter. You have not forgotten what 
we promised to each other, when we parted ? " 



FLORENCE APPEALS FOR HELP. 313 

" Forgotten ! " But he said no more. 
"And if you had if suffering and danger had driven it 
from your thoughts which it has not you would remember 
it now, Walter, when you find me poor and abandoned, with 
no home but this, and no friends but the two who hear me 
speak ! " 

" I would ! Heaven knows I would ! " said Walter. 

"Oh, Walter," exclaimed Florence, through her sobs and 
tears. " Dear brother ! Show me some way through the world 
some humble path that I may take alone, and labour in, 
and sometimes think of you as one who will protect and care 
for me as for a sister ! Oh, help me, Walter, for I need help 
so much ! " 

" Miss Dombey ! Florence ! I would die to help you. But 
your friends are proud and rich. Your father " 

" No, no ! Walter ! " She shrieked, and put her hands up 
to her head, in an attitude of terror that transfixed him where 
he stood. " Don't say that word ! " 

He never, from that hour, forgot the voice and look with 
which she stopped him at the name. He felt that if he 
were to live a hundred years, he never could forget it. 

Somewhere anywhere but never home ! All past, all 
gone, all lost, and broken up ! The whole history of her 
untold slight and suffering was in the cry and look ; and he 
felt he never could forget it, and he never did. 

She laid her gentle face upon the Captain's shoulder, and 
related how and why she had fled. If every sorrowing tear 
she shed in doing so, had been a curse upon the head of him 
she never named or blamed, it would have been better for 
him, Walter thought, with awe, than to be renounced out of 
such a strength and might of love. 

" There, precious ! " said the Captain, when she ceased ; and 
deep attention the Captain had paid to her while she spoke ; 
listening, with his glazed hat all awry and his mouth wide 
open. " Awast, awast, my eyes ! Wal'r, dear lad, sheer off 
for to-night, and leave the pretty one to me ! " 



DOMBEY AND SON. 

Walter took her hand in both of his, and put it to his 
lips, and kissed it. He knew now that she was, indeed, a 
homeless wandering fugitive; but, richer to him so, than in 
all the wealth and pride of her right station, she seemed 
farther off than even on the height that had made him giddy 
in his boyish dreams. 

Captain Cuttle, perplexed by no such meditations, guarded 
Florence to her room, and watched at intervals upon the 
charmed ground outside her door for such it truly was to 
him until he felt sufficiently easy in his mind about her, to 
turn in under the counter. On abandoning his watch for 
that purpose, he could not help calling once, rapturously, 
through the keyhole, "Drownded. Ari*t he, pretty?" or, 
when he got down stairs, making another trial at that verse 
of Lovely Peg. But it stuck in his throat somehow, and he 
could make nothing of it; so he went to bed, and dreamed 
that old Sol Gills was married to Mrs. MacStinger, and kept 
prisoner by that lady in a secret chamber on a short allowance 
of victuals. 



CHAPTER L. 

MR. TOOTs's COMPLAINT. 

THERE was an empty room above-stairs at the Wooden Mid 
shipman's, which, in days of yore, had been Walter's bedroom. 
Walter, rousing up the Captain betimes in the morning, pro 
posed that they should carry thither such furniture out of the 
little parlour as would grace it best, so that Florence might 
take possession of it when she rose. As nothing could be more 
agreeable to Captain Cuttle than making himself very red and 
short of breath in such a cause, he turned to (as he himself 
said) with a will ; and, in a couple of hours, this garret was 
transformed into a species of land-cabin, adorned with all the 
choicest moveables out of the parlour, inclusive everj of the 
Tartar frigate, which the Captain hung up over the chimney- 
piece with such extreme delight, that he could do nothing for 
half-an-hour afterwards but walk backward from it, lost in 
admiration. 

The Captain could be induced by no persuasion of Walter's 
to wind up the big watch, or to take back the canister, or to 
touch the sugar-tongs and tea-spoons. " No, no, my lad," was 
the Captain's invariable reply to any solicitation of the kind, 
"I've made that there little property over, jintly." These 
words he repeated with great unction and gravity, evidently 
believing that they had the virtue of an Act of Parliament, 
and that unless he committed himself by some new admission 
of ownership, no flaw could be found in such a form of 
conveyance. 



316 DOMBEY AND SON. 

It was an advantage of the new arrangement, that besides 
the greater seclusion it afforded Florence, it admitted of the 
Midshipman being restored to his usual post of observation, 
and also of the shop shutters being taken down. The latter 
ceremony, however little importance the unconscious Captain 
attached to it, was not wholly superfluous; for, on the 
previous day, so much excitement had been occasioned in 
the neighbourhood, by the shutters remaining unopened, that 
the Instrument-maker's house had been honoured with an 
unusual share of public observation, and had been intently 
stared at from the opposite side of the way, by groups of 
hungry gazers, at any time between sunrise and sunset. The 
idlers and vagabonds had been particularly interested in the 
Captain's fate ; constantly grovelling in the mud to apply 
their eyes to the cellar-grating, under the shop-window, and 
delighting their imaginations with the fancy that they could 
see a piece of his coat as he hung in a corner; though this 
settlement of him was stoutly disputed by an opposite faction, 
who were of opinion that he lay murdered with a hammer, 
on the stairs. It was not without exciting some discontent, 
therefore, that the subject of these rumours was seen early 
in the morning standing at his shop-door as hale and hearty 
as if nothing had happened ; and the beadle of that quarter, 
a man of an ambitious character, who had expected to have 
the distinction of being present at the breaking open of the 
door, and of giving evidence in full uniform before the coroner, 
went so far as to say to an opposite neighbour, that the chap 
in the glazed hat had better not try it on there without 
more particularly mentioning what and further, that he, the 
Beadle, would keep his eye upon him. 

"Captain Cuttle, 1 ' said Walter, musing, when they stood 
resting from their labours at the shop-door, looking down 
the old familiar street; it being still early in the morning; 
" nothing at all of Uncle Sol, in all that time ! " 

" Nothing at all, my lad," replied the Captain, shaking his 
head. 



CONCERNING UNCLE SOL. 317 

" Gone in search of me, dear, kind old man," 1 said Walter : 
" yet never write to you ! But why not ? He says, in effect, 
in this packet that you gave me, 11 taking the paper from 
his pocket, which had been opened in the presence of the 
enlightened Bunsby, " that if you never hear from him before 
opening it, you may believe him dead. Heaven forbid ! But 
you would have heard of him, even if he were dead ! Some 
one would have written, surely, by his desire, if he could not ; 
and have said, 'on such a day, there died in my house, 1 or 
* under my care,' or so forth, ' Mr. Solomon Gills of London, 
who left this last remembrance and this last request to you. 1 " 

The Captain, who had never climbed to such a clear height 
of probability before, was greatly impressed by the wide 
prospect it opened, and answered, with a thoughtful shake 
of his head, " Well said, my lad ; wery well said." 

"I have been thinking of this, or, at least," said Walter, 
colouring, "I have been thinking of one thing and another, 
all through a sleepless night, and I cannot believe, Captain 
Cuttle, but that my Uncle Sol (Lord bless him !) is alive, and 
will return. I don't so much wonder at his going away, because, 
leaving out of consideration that spice of the marvellous which 
was always in his character, and his great affection for me, 
before which every other consideration of his life became 
nothing, as no one ought to know so well as I who had the 
best of fathers in him," Walter's voice was indistinct and 
husky here, and he looked away, along the street, "leaving 
that out of consideration, I say, I have often read and heard 
of people who, having some near and dear relative, who was 
supposed to be shipwrecked at sea, have gone down to live on 
that part of the sea-shore where any tidings of the missing- 
ship might be expected to arrive, though only an hour or two 
sooner than elsewhere, or have even gone upon her track to 
the place whither she was bound, as if their going would create 
intelligence. I think I should do such a thing myself, as soon 
as another, or sooner than many, perhaps. But why my uncle 
shouldn't write to you, when he so clearly intended to do so, 



318 DOMBEY AND SON. 

or how he should die abroad, and you not know it through 
some other hand, I cannot make out." 

Captain Cuttle observed, with a shake of his head, that Jack 
Bunsby himself hadn't made it out, and that he was a man 
as could give a pretty taut opinion too. 

" If my uncle had been a heedless young man, likely to be 
entrapped by jovial company to some drinking-place, where he 
was to be got rid of for the sake of what money he might 
have about him," said Walter ; " or if he had been a reckless 
sailor, going ashore with two or three months'* pay in his 
pocket, I could understand his disappearing, and leaving no 
trace behind. But, being Avhat he was and is, I hope I 
can't believe it." 

"Wal'r, my lad," inquired the Captain, wistfully eyeing 
him as he pondered and pondered, "what do you make of 
it, then?" 

" Captain Cuttle," returned Walter, " I don't know what to 
make of it. I suppose he never has written ! There is no 
doubt about that ? " 

" If so be as Sol Gills wrote, my lad," replied the Captain, 
argumentatively, " where's his dispatch ? " 

" Say that he intrusted it to some private hand," suggested 
Walter, " and that it has been forgotten, or carelessly thrown 
aside, or lost. Even that is more probable to me, than the 
other event. In short, I not only cannot bear to contemplate 
that other event, Captain Cuttle, but I can't, and won't." 

" Hope, you see, Wal'r," said the Captain, sagely, " Hope. 
It's that as animates you. Hope is a buoy, for which you 
overhaul your Little Warbler, sentimental diwision, but Lord, 
my lad, like any other buoy, it only floats ; it can't be steered 
nowhere. Along with the figure-head of Hope," said the 
Captain, " there's a anchor ; but what's the good of my having 
a anchor, if I can't find no bottom to let it go in ? " 

Captain Cuttle said this rather in his character of a sagacious 
citizen and householder, bound to impart a morsel from his 
stores of wisdom to an inexperienced youth, than in his own 



ABOUT MISS DOMBEY. 319 

proper person. Indeed, his face was quite luminous as he 
spoke, with new hope, caught from Walter; and he appro 
priately concluded by slapping him on the back ; and saying, 
with enthusiasm, " Hooroar, my lad ! Indiwidually, I'm o' 
your opinion."" 

Walter, with this cheerful laugh, returned the salutation, 
and said : 

" Only one word more about my uncle at present, Captain 
Cuttle. I suppose it is impossible that he can have written 
in the ordinary course by mail packet, or ship letter, you 
understand " 

"Aye, aye, my lad,"" said the Captain approvingly. 

" And that you have missed the letter anyhow ? " 

" Why, Wal'r," said the Captain, turning his eyes upon him 
with a faint approach to a severe expression, " an't I been on 
the look out for any tidings of that man o' science, old Sol 
Gills, your uncle, day and night, ever since I lost him? An't 
my heart been heavy and watchful always, along of him and 
you ? Sleeping and waking, an't I been upon my post, and 
wouldn't I scorn to quit it while this here Midshipman held 
together ! " 

"Yes, Captain Cuttle," replied Walter, grasping his hand, 
" I know you would, and I know how faithful and earnest all 
you say and feel is. I am sure of it. You don't doubt that 
I am as sure of it as I am that my foot is again upon this 
door-step, or that I again have hold of this true hand. Do 
you?" 

"No, no, Wal'r," returned the Captain, with his beaming 
face. 

"I'll hazard no more conjectures," said Walter, fervently 
shaking the hard hand of the Captain, who shook his with 
no less good-will. "All I will add is, Heaven forbid that I 
should touch my uncle's possessions, Captain Cuttle ! Every 
thing that he left here, shall remain in the care of the truest 
of stewards and kindest of men and if his name is not Cuttle, 
he has no name ! Now, best of friends, about Miss Dombey." 



320 DOMBEY AND SON. 

There was a change in Walter's manner, as he came to these 
two words ; and when he uttered them, all his confidence and 
cheerfulness appeared to have deserted him. 

" I thought, before Miss Dombey stopped me when I spoke 
of her father last night," said Walter, " you remember 
how?" 

The Captain well remembered, and shook his head. 

" I thought," said Walter, " before that, that we had but 
one hard duty to perform, and that it was, to prevail upon 
her to communicate with her friends, and to return home." 

The Captain muttered a feeble " Awast ! " or a " Stand 
by ! " or something or other, equally pertinent to the occasion ; 
but it was rendered so extremely feeble by the total discom 
fiture with which he received this announcement, that what 
it was, is mere matter of conjecture. 

" But," said Walter, " that is over. I think so no longer. 
I would sooner be put back again upon that piece of wreck, 
on which I have so often floated, since my preservation, in my 
dreams, and there left to drift, and drive, and die ! " 

" Hooroar, my lad ! " exclaimed the Captain, in a burst of 
uncontrollable satisfaction. " Hooroar ! hooroar ! hooroar ! " 

" To think that she, so young, so good, and beautiful," said 
Walter, " so delicately brought up, and born to such a different 
fortune, should strive with the rough world ! But we have 
seen the gulf that cuts off all behind her, though no one but 
herself can know how deep it is ; and there is no return." 

Captain Cuttle, without quite understanding this, greatly 
approved of it, and observed, in a tone of strong corroboration, 
that the wind was quite abaft. 

"She ought not to be alone here; ought she, Captain 
Cuttle?" said Walter, anxiously. 

" Well, my lad," replied the Captain, after a little sagacious 
consideration. " I don't know. You being here to keep her 
company, you see, and you two being jintly " 

" Dear Captain Cuttle ! " remonstrated Walter. " I being 
here ! Miss Dombey, in her guileless innocent heart, regards 



NO, OTHER CHARACTER? 321 

me as her adopted brother; but what would the guile and 
guilt of my heart be, if I pretended to believe that I had 
any right to approach her, familiarly, in that character if 
I pretended to forget that I am bound, in honour, not to 
do it!" 

"WalY, my lad," hinted the Captain, with some revival of 
his discomfiture, "an't there no other character as " 

" Oh ! " returned Walter, " would you have me die in her 
esteem in such esteem as hers and put a veil between myself 
and her angel's face for ever, by taking advantage of her being 
here for refuge, so trusting and so unprotected, to endeavour 
to exalt myself into her lover ! What do I say ? There is no 
one in the world who would be more opposed to me if I could 
do so, than you." 

" WalY, my lad," said the Captain, drooping more and more, 
"prowiding as there is any just cause or impediment why two 
persons should not be jined together in the house of bondage, 
for which you'll overhaul the place and make a note, I hope 
I should declare it as promised and wowed in the banns. So 
there an't no other character ; aiVt there, my lad ! " 

Walter briskly waved his hand in the negative. 

" Well, my lad," growled the Captain slowly, " I won't deny 
but what I find myself wery much down by the head, along 
o' this here, or but what IVe gone clean about. But as to 
Lady-lass, WalY, mind you, wofs respect and duty to her is 
respect and duty in my articles, howsumwer disapinting ; and 
therefore I follows in your wake, my lad, and feel as you are, 
no doubt, acting up to yourself. And there an't no other 
character, an't there ! " said the Captain, musing over the 
ruins of his fallen castle with a very despondent face. 

" Now, Captain Cuttle," said Walter, starting a fresh point 
with a gayer air, to cheer the Captain up but nothing could 
do that ; he was too much concerned " I think we should 
exert ourselves to find some one who would be a proper 
attendant for Miss Dombey while she remains here, and who 
may be trusted. None of her relations may. It's clear Miss 

VOL. II. Y 



322 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Dombey feels that they are all subservient to her father. 
What has become of Susan ? " 

"The young woman? 1 ' returned the Captain. "It's my 
belief as she was sent away again the will of Heart's Delight. 
I made a signal for her when Lady-lass first come, and she 
rated of her wery high, and said she had been gone a long 
time." 

"Then," said Walter, "do you ask Miss Dombey where 
she's gone, and we'll try to find her. The morning's getting 
on, and Miss Dombey will soon be rising. You are her best 
friend. Wait for her up stairs, and leave me to take care of 
all down here." 

The Captain, very crest-fallen indeed, echoed the sigh with 
which Walter said this, and complied. Florence was delighted 
with her new room, anxious to see Walter, and overjoyed at 
the prospect of greeting her old friend Susan. But Florence 
could not say where Susan was gone, except that it was in 
Essex, and no one could say, she remembered, unless it were 
Mr. Toots. 

With this information the melancholy Captain returned to 
Walter, and gave him to understand that Mr. Toots was the 
young gentleman whom he had encountered on the door-step, 
and that he was a friend of his, and that he was a young 
gentleman of property, and that he hopelessly adored Miss 
Dombey. The Captain also related how the intelligence of 
Walter's supposed fate had first made him acquainted with 
Mr. Toots, and how there was solemn treaty and compact 
between them, that Mr. Toots should be mute upon the 
subject of his love. 

The question then was, whether Florence could trust Mr. 
Toots ; and Florence saying, with a smile, " Oh, yes, with her 
whole heart ! " it became important to find out where Mr. 
Toots lived. This Florence didn't know, and the Captain had 
forgotten ; and the Captain was telling Walter, in the little 
parlour, that Mr. Toots was sure to be there soon, when in 
came Mr. Toots himself. 



MR. TOOTS IN A STATE OF DISTRACTION. 323 

"Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, rushing into the parlour 
without any ceremony, "I'm in a state of mind bordering 
on distraction ! " 

Mr. Toots had discharged those words, as from a mortar, 
before he observed Walter, whom he recognised with what 
may be described as a chuckle of misery. 

"You'll excuse me, Sir," said Mr. Toots, holding his 
forehead, "but I'm at present in that state that my brain 
is going, if not gone, and anything approaching to polite 
ness in an individual so situated would be a hollow mockery. 
Captain Gills, I beg to request the favour of a private 
interview." 

"Why, Brother," returned the Captain, taking him by the 
hand, "you are the man as we was on the look-out for." 

"Oh, Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, "what a look-out 
that must be, of which / am the object ! I haven't dared to 
shave, I'm in that rash state. I haven't had my clothes 
brushed. My hair is matted together. I told the Chicken 
that if he offered to clean my boots, I'd stretch him a corpse 
before me ! " 

All these indications of a disordered mind were verified in 
Mr. Toots's appearance, which was wild and savage. 

"See here, Brother," said the Captain. "This here's old 
Sol Gills's nevy Wal'r. Him as was supposed to have perished 
at sea." 

Mr. Toots took his hand from his forehead, and stared at 
Walter. 

" Good gracious me ! " stammered Mr. Toots. " What a 
complication of misery ! How-de-do ? I I I'm afraid you 
must have got very wet. Captain Gills, will you allow me a 
word in the shop ? " 

He took the Captain by the coat, and going out with him 
whispered : 

"That then, Captain Gills, is the party you spoke of, 
when you said that he and Miss Dombey were made for one 
another ? " 



324 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Why, aye, my lad," replied the disconsolate Captain ; " I 
was of that mind once." 

" And at this time ! " exclaimed Mr. Toots, with his hand 
to his forehead again. " Of all others ! a hated rival ! At 
least, he an't a hated rival," said Mr. Toots, stopping short, 
on second thoughts, and taking away his hand ; " what should 
I hate him for? No. If my affection has been truly dis 
interested, Captain Gills, let me prove it now ! " 

Mr. Toots shot back abruptly into the parlour, and said, 
wringing Walter by the hand : 

" How-de-do ? I hope you didn't take any cold. I I shall 
be very glad if you'll give me the pleasure of your acquaintance. 
I wish you many happy returns of the day. Upon my word 
and honour," said Mr. Toots, warming as he became better 
acquainted with Walter's face and figure, " I'm very glad to 
see you ! " 

"Thank you, heartily," said Walter. "I couldn't desire a 
more genuine and genial welcome." 

" Couldn't you, though ? " said Mr, Toots, still shaking his 
hand. " It's very kind of you. I'm much obliged to you. 
How-de-do ? I hope you left everybody quite well over the 
that is, upon the I mean wherever you came from last, you 
know." 

All these good wishes, and better intentions, Walter re 
sponded to manfully. 

" Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, " I should wish to be strictly 
honourable ; but I trust I may be allowed now, to allude to 
a certain subject that " 

"Aye, aye, my lad," returned the Captain. "Freely, 
freely." 

"Then, Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, "and Lieutenant 
Walters, are you aware that the most dreadful circumstances 
have been happening at Mr. Dombey's house, and that Miss 
Dombey herself has left her father, who, in my opinion," said 
Mr. Toots, with great excitement, " is a Brute, that it would 
be a flattery to call a a marble monument, or a bird of prey, 



A GREAT RELIEF. 

and that she is not to be found, and has gone no one knows 
where ? " 

" May I ask how you heard this ? " inquired Walter. 

" Lieutenant Walters," said Mr. Toots, who had arrived at 
that appellation by a process peculiar to himself; probably 
by jumbling up his Christian name with the seafaring profes 
sion, and supposing some relationship between him and the 
Captain, which would extend, as a matter of course, to their 
titles ; " Lieutenant Walters, I can have no objection to make 
a straightforward reply. The fact is, that feeling extremely 
interested in everything that relates to Miss Dombey not 
for any selfish reason, Lieutenant Walters, for I am well aware 
that the most agreeable thing I could do for all parties would 
be to put an end to my existence, which can only be regarded 
as an inconvenience I have been in the habit of bestowing a 
trifle now and then upon a footman ; a most respectable young 
man, of the name of Towlinson, who has lived in the family 
some time ; and Towlinson informed me, yesterday evening, that 
this was the state of things. Since which, Captain Gills and 
Lieutenant Walters I have been perfectly frantic, and have 
been lying down on the sofa all night, the Ruin you behold."" 

" Mr. Toots," said Walter, " I am happy to be able to 
relieve your mind. Pray calm yourself. Miss Dombey is safe 
and well." 

" Sir ! " cried Mr. Toots, starting from his chair and shaking 
hands with him anew, " the relief is so excessive, and unspeak 
able, that if you were to tell me now that Miss Dombey was 
married even, I could smile. Yes, Captain Gills," said Mr. 
Toots, appealing to him, " upon my soul and body, I really 
think, whatever I might do to myself immediately afterwards, 
that I could smile, I am so relieved." 

"It will be a greater relief and delight still, to such a 
generous mind as yours," said Walter, not at all slow in return 
ing his greeting, " to find that you can render service to Miss 
Dombey. Captain Cuttle, will you have the kindness to take 
Mr. Toots up stairs?" 



326 DOMBEY AND SON. 

The Captain beckoned to Mr. Toots, who followed him 
with a bewildered countenance, and, ascending to the top of 
the house, was introduced, without a word of preparation from 
his conductor, into Florence's new retreat. 

Poor Mr. Toots's amazement and pleasure at sight of her 
were such, that they could find a vent in nothing but extrava 
gance. He ran up to her, seized her hand, kissed it, dropped 
it, seized it again, fell upon one knee, shed tears, chuckled, 
and was quite regardless of his danger of being pinned by 
Diogenes, who, inspired by the belief that there was something 
hostile to his mistress in these demonstrations, worked round 
and round him, as if only undecided at what particular point 
to go in for the assault, but quite resolved to do him a fearful 
mischief. 

" Oh Di, you bad, forgetful dog ! Dear Mr. Toots, I am so 
rejoiced to see you !" 

"Thankee, 11 said Mr. Toots, "I am pretty well, I'm much 
obliged to you, Miss Dombey. I hope all the family are the 
same." 

Mr. Toots said this without the least notion of what he was 
talking about, and sat down on a chair, staring at Florence 
with the liveliest contention of delight and despair going on 
in his face that any face could exhibit. 

" Captain Gills and Lieutenant Walters have mentioned, 
Miss Dombey," gasped Mr. Toots, "that I can do you some 
service. If I could by any means wash out the remembrance 
of that day at Brighton, when I conducted myself much 
more like a Parricide than a person of independent property," 
said Mr. Toots, with severe self-accusation, " I should sink 
into the silent tomb with a gleam of joy." 

" Pray, Mr. Toots," said Florence, " do not wish me to forget 
anything in our acquaintance. I never can, believe me. You 
have been far too kind and good to me, always."" 

" Miss Dombey," returned Mr. Toots, " your consideration 
for my feelings is a part of your angelic character. Thank 
you a thousand times. It's of no consequence at all." 



MR. TOOTS RENDERS USEFUL SERVICE. 327 

"What we thought of asking you,"" said Florence, "is, 
whether you remember where Susan, whom you were so kind 
as to accompany to the coach-office when she left me, is to 
be found." 

" Why I do not certainly, Miss Dombey," said Mr. Toots, 
after a little consideration, " remember the exact name of the 
place that was on the coach ; and I do recollect that she said 
she was not going to stop there, but was going farther on. 
But, Miss Dombey, if your object is to find her, and to have 
her here, myself and the Chicken will produce her with every 
dispatch that devotion on my part, and great intelligence on 
the Chicken's, can insure. 1 ' 

Mr. Toots was so manifestly delighted and revived by the 
prospect of being useful, and the disinterested sincerity of his 
devotion was so unquestionable, that it would have been cruel 
to refuse him. Florence, with an instinctive delicacy, forbore 
to urge the least obstacle, though she did not forbear to over 
power him with thanks; and Mr. Toots proudly took the 
commission upon himself for immediate execution. 

"Miss Dombey," said Mr. Toots, touching her proffered 
hand, with a pang of hopeless love visibly shooting through 
him, and flashing out in his face, " Good-bye ! Allow me 
to take the liberty of saying, that your misfortunes make me 
perfectly wretched, and that you may trust me, next to 
Captain Gills himself. I am quite aware, Miss Dombey, of 
my own deficiencies they're not of the least consequence, 
thank you but I am entirely to be relied upon, I do assure 
you, Miss Dombey." 

With that Mr. Toots came out of the room, again accom 
panied by the Captain, who, standing at a little distance, 
holding his hat under his arm and arranging his scattered 
locks with his hook, had been a not uninterested witness of 
what passed. And when the door closed behind them, the 
light of Mr. Toots's life was darkly clouded again. 

"Captain Gills," said that gentleman, stopping near the 
bottom of the stairs, and turning round, " to tell you the 



328 DOMBEY AND SON. 

truth, I am not in a frame of mind at the present moment, 
in which I could see Lieutenant Walters with that entirely 
friendly feeling towards him that I should wish to harbour in 
my breast. We cannot always command our feelings, Captain 
Gills, and I should take it as a particular favour if you'd let 
me out at the private door." 

"Brother," returned the Captain, "you shall shape your 
own course. Wotever course you take, is plain and seaman- 
like, I'm wery sure." 

"Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, "you're extremely kind. 
Your good opinion is a consolation to me. There is one 
thing," said Mr. Toots, standing in the passage, behind the 
half-opened door, "that I hope you'll bear in mind, Captain 
Gills, and that I should wish Lieutenant Walters to be made 
acquainted with. I have quite come into my property now, 
you know, and and I don't know what to do with it. If I 
could be at all useful in a pecuniary point of view, I should 
glide into the silent tomb with ease and smoothness." 

Mr. Toots said no more, but slipped out quietly and shut 
the door upon himself, to cut the Captain off from any reply. 

Florence thought of this good creature, long after he had 
left her, with mingled emotions of pain and pleasure. He was 
so honest and warm-hearted, that to see him again and be 
assured of his truth to her in her distress, was a joy and 
comfort beyond all price ; but for that very reason, it was so 
affecting to think that she caused him a moment's unhappiness, 
or ruffled, by a breath, the harmless current of his life, that 
her eyes filled with tears, and her bosom overflowed with pity. 
Captain Cuttle, in his different way, thought much of Mr. 
Toots too ; and so did Walter ; and when the evening came, 
and they were all sitting together in Florence's new room, 
Walter praised him in a most impassioned manner, and told 
Florence what he had said on leaving the house, with every 
graceful setting-off in the way of comment and appreciation 
that his own honesty and sympathy could surround it with. 

Mr. Toots did not return upon the next day, or the next, 



DISTRESS OF FLORENCE. 329 

or for several days ; and in the meanwhile Florence, without 
any new alarm, lived like a quiet bird in a cage, at the top 
of the old Instrument- maker's house. But Florence drooped 
and hung her head more and more plainly, as the days went 
on ; and the expression that had been seen in the face of the 
dead child, was often turned to the sky from her high window, 
as if it sought his angel out, on the bright shore of which he 
had spoken : lying on his little bed. 

Florence had been weak and delicate of late, and the 
agitation she had undergone was not without its influences on 
her health. But it was no bodily illness that affected her now. 
She was distressed in mind ; and the cause of her distress was 
Walter. 

Interested in her, anxious for her, proud and glad to serve 
her, and showing all this with the enthusiasm and ardour of 
his character, Florence saw that he avoided her. All the long 
day through, he seldom approached her room. If she asked 
for him, he came, again for the moment as earnest and as 
bright as she remembered him when she was a lost child in the 
staring streets; but he soon became constrained her quick 
affection was too watchful not to know it and uneasy, and 
soon left her. Unsought, he never came, all day, between the 
morning and the night. When the evening closed in, he was 
always there, and that was her happiest time, for then she 
half believed that the old Walter of her childhood was not 
changed. But, even then, some trivial word, look, or circum 
stance would show her that there was an indefinable division 
between them which could not be passed. 

And she could not but see that these revealings of a great 
alteration in Walter manifested themselves in despite of his 
utmost efforts to hide them. In his consideration for her, she 
thought, and in the earnestness of his desire to spare her any 
wound from his kind hand, he resorted to innumerable little 
artifices and disguises. So much the more did Florence feel 
the greatness of the alteration in him ; so much the oftener 
did she weep at this estrangement of her brother. 



330 DOMBEY AND SON. 

The good Captain her untiring, tender, ever zealous friend 
saw it, too, Florence thought, and it pained him. He was 
less cheerful and hopeful than he had been at first, and would 
steal looks at her and Walter, by turns, when they \vere all 
three together of an evening, with quite a sad face. 

Florence resolved, at last, to speak to Walter. She believed 
she knew now what the cause of his estrangement was, and 
she thought it would be a relief to her full heart, and would 
set him more at ease, if she told him she had found it out, 
and quite submitted to it, and did not reproach him. 

It was on a certain Sunday afternoon, that Florence took 
this resolution. The faithful Captain, in an amazing shirt- 
collar, was sitting by her, reading with his spectacles on, and 
she asked him where Walter was. 

"I think he's down below, my lady lass," returned the 
Captain. 

" I should like to speak to him," said Florence, rising 
hurriedly as if to go down stairs. 

"I'll rouse him up here, Beauty," said the Captain, "in a 
trice." 

Thereupon the Captain, with much alacrity, shouldered his 
book for he made it a point of duty to read none but very 
large books on a Sunday, as having a more staid appearance : 
and had bargained, years ago, for a prodigious volume at a 
book-stall, five lines of which utterly confounded him at any 
time, insomuch that he had not yet ascertained of what sub 
ject it treated and withdrew. Walter soon appeared. 

" Captain Cuttle tells me, Miss Dombey," he eagerly began 
on coming in but stopped when he saw her face. 

"You are not so well to-day. You look distressed. You 
have been weeping." 

He spoke so kindly, and with such a fervent tremor in his 
voice, that the tears gushed into her eyes at the sound of his 
words. 

" Walter," said Florence, gently, " I am not quite well, 
and I have been weeping. I want to speak to you." 



FLORENCE AND WALTER. 331 

He sat down opposite to her, looking at her beautiful and 

innocent face ; and his own turned pale, and his lips trembled. 

"You said, upon the night when I knew that you were 

saved and oh ! dear Walter, what I felt that night, and what 

I hoped!" 

He put his trembling hand upon the table between them, 
and sat looking at her. 

"that I was changed. I was surprised to hear you say 
so, but I understand, now, that I am. Don't be angry with 
me, Walter. I was too much overjoyed to think of it, then." 
She seemed a child to him again. It was the ingenuous, 
confiding, loving child he saw and heard. Not the dear 
woman, at whose feet he would have laid the riches of the 
earth. 

"You remember the last time I saw you, Walter, before 
you went away ? " 

He put his hand into his breast, and took out a little 
purse. 

"I have always worn it round my neck! If I had gone 
down in the deep, it would have been with me at the 
bottom of the sea." 

"And you will wear it still, Walter, for my old sake?" 
"Until I die!" 

She laid her hand on his, as fearlessly and simply, as if 
not a day had intervened since she gave him the little token 
of remembrance. 

"I am glad of that. I shall be always glad to think so, 
Walter. Do you recollect that a thought of this change 
seemed to come into our minds at the same time that evening, 
when we were talking together ? " 

" No ! " he answered, in a wondering tone. 
"Yes, Walter. I had been the means of injuring your 
hopes and prospects even then. I feared to think so, then, 
but I know it now. If you were able, then, in your gene 
rosity, to hide from me that you knew it too, you cannot do 
so now, although you try as generously as before. You do. 



DOMBEY AND SON. 

I thank you for it, Walter, deeply, truly; but you cannot 
succeed. You have suffered too much in your own hardships, 
and in those of your dearest relation, quite to overlook the 
innocent cause of all the peril and affliction that has befallen 
you. You cannot quite forget me in that character, and we 
can be brother and sister no longer. But, dear AValter, do 
not think that I complain of you in this. I might have 
known it ought to have known it but forgot it in my joy. 
All I hope is that you may think of me less irksomely when 
this feeling is no more a secret one ; and all I ask is, Walter, 
in the name of the poor child who was your sister once, that 
you will not struggle with yourself, and pain yourself, for my 
sake, now that I know all ! " 

Walter had looked upon her while she said this, with a 
face so full of wonder and amazement, that it had room for 
nothing else. Now he caught up the hand that touched his, 
so entreatingly, and held it between his own. 

"Oh, Miss Dombey, 11 he said, "is it possible that while I 
have been suffering so much, in striving with my sense of 
what is due to you, and must be rendered to you, I have 
made you suffer what your words disclose to me? Never, 
never, before Heaven, have I thought of you but as the 
single, bright, pure, blessed recollection of my boyhood and 
my youth. Never have I from the first, and never shall I 
to the last, regard your part in my life, but as something 
sacred, never to be lightly thought of, never to be esteemed 
enough, never, until death, to be forgotten. Again to see 
you look, and hear you speak, as you did on that night when 
we parted, is happiness to me that there are no words to 
utter; and to be loved and trusted as your brother, is the 
next great gift I could receive and prize ! " 

"Walter," said Florence, looking at him earnestly, but 
with a changing face, "what is that which is due to me, and 
must be rendered to me, at the sacrifice of all this ? " 

" Respect, 11 said Walter, in a low tone. " Reverence. 11 

The colour dawned in her face, and she timidly and 



WALTER MAKES A CONFESSION. 333 

thoughtfully withdrew her hand ; still looking at him with 
unabated earnestness. 

" I have not a brother's right, 11 said Walter. " I have not 
a brother's claim. I left a child. I find a woman."" 

The colour overspread her face. She made a gesture as if 
of entreaty that he would say no more, and her face dropped 
upon her hands. 

They were both silent for a time ; she weeping. 

" I owe it to a heart so trusting, pure, and good," 11 said 
Walter, " even to tear myself from it, though I rend my own. 
How dare I say it is my sister's ! " 

She was weeping still. 

"If you had been happy; surrounded as you should be 
by loving and admiring friends, and by all that makes the 
station you were born to enviable," said Walter ; " and if you 
had called me brother, then, in your affectionate remembrance 
of the past, I could have answered to the name from my dis 
tant place, with no inward assurance that I wronged your 
spotless truth by doing so. But here and now ! " 

" Oh thank you, thank you, Walter ! Forgive my having 
wronged you so much. I had no one to advise me. I am 
quite alone." 

" Florence ! " said Walter, passionately. " I am hurried 
on to say, what I thought, but a few moments ago, nothing 
could have forced from my lips. If I had been prosperous; 
if I had any means or hope of being one day able to restore 
you to a station near your own ; I would have told you that 
there was one name you might bestow upon me a right 
above all others, to protect and cherish you that I was 
worthy of in nothing but the love and honour that I bore 
you, and in my whole heart being yours. I would have told 
you that it was the only claim that you could give me to 
defend and guard you, which I dare accept and dare assert; 
but that if I had that right, I would regard it as a trust so 
precious and so priceless, that the undivided truth and fervour 
of my life would poorly acknowledge its worth." 



334 DOMBEY AND SON. 

The head was still bent down, the tears still falling, and 
the bosom swelling with its sobs. 

" Dear Florence ! Dearest Florence ! whom I called so in 
my thoughts before I could consider how presumptuous and 
wild it was. One last time let me call you by your own dear 
name, and touch this gentle hand in token of your sisterly 
forgetfulness of what I have said." 

She raised her head, and spoke to him with such a solemn 
sweetness in her eyes ; with such a calm, bright, placid smile 
shining on him through her tears; with such a low, soft 
tremble in her frame and voice ; that the innermost chords of 
his heart were touched, and his sight was dim as he listened. 

"No, Walter, I cannot forget it. I would not forget it, 
for the world. Are you are you very poor?" 

" I am but a wanderer," said Walter, " making voyages to 
live across the sea. That is my calling now." 

"Are you soon going away again, Walter." 

" Very soon." 

She sat looking at him for a moment; then timidly put 
her trembling hand in his. 

" If you will take me for your wife, Walter, I will love you 
dearly. If you will let me go with you, Walter, I will go to 
the world's end without fear. I can give up nothing for you 
I have nothing to resign, and no one to forsake; but all 
my love and life shall be devoted to you, and with my last 
breath I will breathe your name to God if I have sense and 
memory left." 

He caught her to his heart, and laid her cheek against his 
own, and now, no more repulsed, no more forlorn, she wept 
indeed, upon the breast of her dear lover. 

Blessed Sunday Bells, ringing so tranquilly in their en 
tranced and happy ears ! Blessed Sunday peace and quiet, 
harmonising with the calmness in their souls, and making 
holy air around them ! Blessed twilight stealing on, and 
shading her so soothingly and gravely, as she falls asleep, like 
a hushed child, upon the bosom she has clung to ! 



HUSBAND AND WIFE. 335 

Oh load of love and trustfulness that lies so lightly there ! 
Aye, look down on the closed eyes, Walter, with a proudly 
tender gaze; for in all the wide wide world they seek but 
thee now only thee ! 

The Captain remained in the little parlour until it was 
quite dark. He took the chair on which Walter had been 
sitting, and looked up at the skylight, until the day, by little 
and little, faded away, and the stars peeped down. He 
lighted a candle, lighted a pipe, smoked it out, and wondered 
what on earth was going on up stairs, and why they didn't 
call him to tea. 

Florence came to his side while he was in the height of his 
wonderment. 

" Aye ! lady lass ! " cried the -Captain. " Why, you and 
Wal'r have had a long spell o 1 talk, my beauty. 11 

Florence put her little hand round one of the great buttons 
of his coat, and said, looking down into his face : 

" Dear Captain, I want to tell you something, if you please. 1 ' 

The Captain raised his head pretty smartly, to hear what 
it was. Catching by this means a more distinct view of 
Florence, he pushed back his chair, and himself with it as 
far as they could go. 

" What ! Heart's Delight ! " cried the Captain, suddenly 
elated. "Is it that?" 

" Yes ! " said Florence, eagerly. 

" Wal'r ! Husband ! THAT ? " roared the Captain, tossing 
up his glazed hat into the skylight. 

" Yes ! " cried Florence, laughing and crying together. 

The Captain immediately hugged her; and then, picking 
up the glazed hat and putting it on, drew her arm through 
his, and conducted her up stairs again ; where he felt that 
the great joke of his life was now to be made. 

" What, Wal'r my lad ! " said the Captain, looking in at 
the door, with his face like an amiable warming-pan. " So 
there ain't NO other character, ain't there?" 



336 DOMBEY AND SON. 

He had like to have suffocated himself with this pleasantry, 
which he repeated at least forty times during tea ; polishing 
his radiant face with the sleeve of his coat, and dabbing his 
head all over with his pocket-handkerchief, in the intervals. 
But he was not without a graver source of enjoyment to fall 
back upon, when so disposed, for he was repeatedly heard to 
say in an under tone, as he looked with ineffable delight at 
Walter and Florence : 

"Ed'ard Cuttle, my lad, you never shaped a better course 
in your life, than when you made that there little property 
over, jintly ! " 



CHAPTER LI. 

MR. DOMBEY AND THE WORLD. 

WHAT is the proud man doing, while the days go by ? Does 
he ever think of his daughter, or wonder where she is gone ? 
Does he suppose she has come home, and is leading her old 
life in the weary house ? No one can answer for him. He 
has never uttered her name, since. His household dread him 
too much to approach a subject on which he is resolutely 
dumb; and the only person who dare question him, he 
silences immediately. 

" My dear Paul ! " murmurs his sister, sidling into the room, 
on the day of Florence's departure, " your wife ! that upstart 
woman ! Is it possible that what I hear confusedly, is true, 
and that this is her return for your unparalleled devotion to 
her ; extending, I am sure, even to the sacrifice of your own 
relations, to her caprices and haughtiness ? My poor brother ! " 

With this speech, feelingly reminiscent of her not having 
been asked to dinner on the day of the first party, Mrs. 
Chick makes great use of her pocket-handkerchief, and falls 
on Mr. Dom bey's neck. But Mr. Dombey frigidly lifts her 
off, and hands her to a chair. 

" I thank you, Louisa," he says, " for this mark of your 
affection ; but desire that our conversation may refer to any 
other subject. When I bewail my fate, Louisa, or express 
myself as being in want of consolation, you can offer it, if 
you will have the goodness."" 

" My dear Paul," rejoins his sister, with her handkerchief 

VOL, n. it 



338 DOMBEY AND SON. 

to her face, and shaking her head, " I know your great spirit, 
and will say no more upon a theme so painful and revolting ; " 
on the heads of which two adjectives, Mrs. Chick visits scathing 
indignation ; " but pray let me ask you though I dread to 
hear something that will shock and distress me that unfortu 
nate child Florence " 

" Louisa ! " says her brother, sternly, " silence. Not another 
word of this ! " 

Mrs. Chick can only shake her head, and use her handker 
chief, and moan over degenerate Dombeys, who are no 
Dombeys. But whether Florence has been inculpated in the 
flight of Edith, or has followed her, or has done too much, 
or too little, or anything, or nothing, she has not the least 
idea. 

He goes on, without deviation, keeping his thoughts and 
feelings close within his own breast, and imparting them to 
no one. He makes no search for his daughter. He may 
think that she is with his sister, or that she is under his own 
roof. He may think of her constantly, or he may never 
think about her. It is all one for any sign he makes. 

But this is sure ; he does not think that he has lost her. He 
has no suspicion of the truth. He has lived too long shut 
up in his towering supremacy, seeing her, a patient gentle 
creature, in the path below it, to have any fear of that. Shaken 
as he is by his disgrace, he is not yet humbled to the level 
earth. The root is broad and deep, and in the course of years 
its fibres have spread out and gathered nourishment from 
everything around it. The tree is struck, but not down. 

Though he hide the world within him from the world without 
which he believes has but one purpose for the time, and 
that, to watch him eagerly wherever he goes he cannot hide 
those rebel traces of it, which escape in hollow eyes and 
cheeks, a haggard forehead, and a moody, brooding air. Im 
penetrable as before, he is still an altered man : and, proud 
as ever, he is humbled, or those marks would not be there. 

The world. What the world thinks of him, how it looks at 



EYES OF THE WORLD ON MR. DOMBEY. 339 

him, what it sees in him, and what it says this is the haunt 
ing demon of his mind. It is everywhere where he is; and, 
worse than that, it is everywhere where he is not. It comes 
out with him among his servants, and yet he leaves it whisper 
ing behind ; he sees it pointing after him in the street ; it 
is waiting for him in his counting-house ; it leers over the 
shoulders of rich men among the merchants ; it goes beckoning 
and babbling among the crowd ; it always anticipates him, in 
every place ; and is always busiest, he knows, when he has 
gone away. When he is shut up in his room at night, it is 
in his house, outside it, audible in footsteps on the pavement, 
visible in print upon the table, steaming to and fro on rail 
roads and in ships : restless and busy everywhere, with nothing 
else but him. 

It is not a phantom of his imagination. It is as active in 
other people's minds as in his. Witness Cousin Feenix, who 
comes from Baden-Baden, purposely to talk to him. Witness 
Major Bagstock, who accompanies Cousin Feenix on that 
friendly mission. 

Mr. Dombey receives them with his usual dignity, and stands 
erect, in his old attitude, before the fire. He feels that the 
world is looking at him out of their eyes. That it is in the 
stare of the pictures. That Mr. Pitt, upon the book-case, 
represents it. That there are eyes in its own map, hanging 
on the wall. 

"An unusually cold spring," says Mr. Dombey to deceive 
the world. 

" Damme, Sir," 1 ' says the Major, in the warmth of friendship, 
" Joseph Bagstock is a bad hand at a counterfeit. If you 
want to hold your friends off, Dombey, and to give them the 
cold shoulder, J. B. is not the man for your purpose. Joe is 
rough and tough, Sir; blunt, Sir, blunt, is Joe. His Royal 
Highness the late Duke of York did me the honour to say, 
deservedly or undeservedly never mind that 'If there is a 
man in the service on whom I can depend for coming to the 
point, that man is Joe Joe Bagstock/ 11 



340 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Mr. Dombey intimates his acquiescence. 

"Now, Dombey," says the Major, "I am a man of the 
world. Our friend Feenix if I may presume to "" 

" Honoured, I am sure,"" says Cousin Feenix. 

" is," proceeds the Major, with a wag of his head, "also 
a man of the world, Dombey, you are a man of the world. 
Now, when three men of the world meet together, and are 
friends as I believe" again appealing to Cousin Feenix. 

" I am sure," says Cousin Feenix, " most friendly." 

" and are friends," resumes the Major, " Old Joe's 
opinion is (J. may be wrong), that the opinion of the world 
on any particular subject, is very easily got at." 

"Undoubtedly," says Cousin Feenix. "In point of fact, 
it's quite a self-evident sort of thing. I am extremely anxious, 
Major, that my friend Dombey should hear me express my 
very great astonishment and regret, that my lovely and accom 
plished relative, who was possessed of every qualification to 
make a man happy, should have so far forgotten what was 
due to in point of fact, to the world as to commit herself in 
such a very extraordinary manner. I have been in a devilish 
state of depression ever since ; and said indeed to Long Saxby 
last night man of six foot ten, with whom my friend Dombey 
is probably acquainted that it had upset me in a confounded 
way, and made me bilious. It induces a man to reflect, this 
kind of fatal catastrophe," says Cousin Feenix, "that events 
do occur in quite a Providential manner ; for if my Aunt had 
been living at the time, I think the effect upon a devilish 
lively woman like herself, would have been prostration, and 
that she would have fallen, in point of fact, a victim." 

"Now, Dombey ! " says the Major, resuming his discourse 
with great energy. 

"I beg your pardon," interposes Cousin Feenix. "Allow 
me another word. My friend Dombey will permit me to say, 
that if any circumstance could have added to the most infernal 
state of pain in which I find myself on this occasion, it would 
be the natural amazement of the world at my lovely and 



OPINION OF THE WORLD. 341 

accomplished relative (as I must still beg leave to call her) 
being supposed to have so committed herself with a person 
man with white teeth, in point of fact of very inferior station 
to her husband. But while I must, rather peremptorily, 
request my friend Dombey not to criminate my lovely and 
accomplished relative until her criminality is perfectly estab 
lished, I beg to assure my friend Dombey that the family I 
represent, and which is now almost extinct (devilish sad reflec 
tion for a man), will interpose no obstacle in his way, and will 
be happy to assent to any honourable course of proceeding, 
with a view to the future, that he may point out. I trust 
my friend Dombey will give me credit for the intentions by 
which I am animated in this very melancholy affair, and a 
in point of fact, I am not aware that I need trouble my 
friend Dombey with any further observations." 

Mr. Dombey bows, without raising his eyes, and is silent. 

"Now, Dombey," says the Major, "our friend Feenix 
having, with an amount of eloquence that Old Joe B. has 
never heard surpassed no, by the Lord, Sir ! never ! " says 
the Major, very blue, indeed, and grasping his cane in the 
middle " stated the case as regards the lady, I shall presume 
upon our friendship, Dombey, to offer a word on another 
aspect of it. Sir," says the Major, with the horse's cough, " the 
world in these things has opinions, which must be satisfied." 

"I know it," rejoins Mr. Dombey. 

" Of course you know it, Dombey," says the Major. " Damme, 
Sir, I know you know it. A man of your calibre is not likely 
to be ignorant of it." 

" I hope not," replies Mr. Dombey. 

"Dombey!" says the Major, "you will guess the rest. I 
speak out prematurely, perhaps because the Bagstock breed 
have always spoken out. Little, Sir, have they ever got by 
doing it; but it's in the Bagstock blood. A shot is to be 
taken at this man. You have J. B. at your elbow. He claims 
the name of friend. God bless you ! " 

"Major," returns Mr. Dombey, " I am obliged. I shall put 



342 DOMBEY AND SON. 

myself in your hands when the time comes. The time not 
being come, I have forborne to speak to you." 

"Where is the fellow, Dombey?" inquires the Major, after 
gasping and looking at him, for a minute. 

" I don't know." 

"Any intelligence of him?" asks the Major. 

"Yes." 

"Dombey, I am rejoiced to hear it," says the Major. "I 
congratulate you." 

"You will excuse even you, Major," replies Mr. Dombey, 
" my entering into any further detail at present. The intelli 
gence is of a singular kind, and singularly obtained. It may 
turn out to be valueless ; it may turn out to be true ; I cannot 
say at present. My explanation must stop here." 

Although this is but a dry reply to the Major's purple 
enthusiasm, the Major receives it graciously, and is delighted 
to think that the world has such a fair prospect of soon 
receiving its due. Cousin Feenix is then presented with his 
meed of acknowledgment by the husband of his lovely and 
accomplished relative, and Cousin Feenix and Major Bagstock 
retire, leaving that husband to the world again, and to ponder 
at leisure on their representation of its state of mind concern 
ing his affairs, and on its just and reasonable expectations. 

But who sits in the housekeeper's room, shedding tears, and 
talking to Mrs. Pipchin in a low tone, with uplifted hands ? 
It is a lady with her face concealed in a very close black 
bonnet, which appears not to belong to her. It is Miss Tox, 
who has borrowed this disguise from her servant, and comes 
from Princess's Place, thus secretly, to revive her old acquaint 
ance with Mrs. Pipchin, in order to get certain information 
of the state of Mr. Dombey. 

" How does he bear it, my dear creature ? " asks Miss Tox. 

" Well," says Mrs. Pipchin, in her snappish way, " he's 
pretty much as usual." 

"Externally," suggests Miss Tox. "But what he feels 
within ! " 



MISS TOX SEEKS INFORMATION. 343 

Mrs. Pipchin's hard grey eye looks doubtful as she answers, 
in three distinct jerks, " Ah ! Perhaps. I suppose so." 

" To tell you my mind, Lucretia," says Mrs. Pipchin ; she 
still calls Miss Tox Lucretia, on account of having made her 
first experiments in the child-quelling line of business on that 
lady, when an unfortunate and weazen little girl of tender 
years ; " to tell you my mind, Lucretia, I think it's a good 
riddance. I don't want any of your brazen faces here, myself ! " 

" Brazen indeed ! Well may you say brazen, Mrs. Pipchin ! " 
returns Miss Tox. " To leave him ! Such a noble figure of 
a man ! " And here Miss Tox is overcome. 

44 1 don't know about noble, I'm sure," observes Mrs. Pipchin, 
irascibly rubbing her nose. "But I know this that when 
people meet with trials, they must bear 'em. Hoity, toity ! 
I have had enough to bear myself, in my time ! What a fuss 
there is ! She's gone and well got rid of. Nobody wants her 
back, I should think ! " 

This hint of the Peruvian Mines, causes Miss Tox to rise 
to go away; when Mrs. Pipchin rings the bell for Towlinson 
to show her out. Mr. Towlinson, not having seen Miss Tox 
for ages, grins, and hopes she's well ; observing that he didn't 
know her at first, in that bonnet. 

44 Pretty well, Towlinson, I thank you," says Miss Tox. 4 ' I 
beg you'll have the goodness, when you happen to see me here, 
not to mention it. My visits are merely to Mrs. Pipchin." 

44 Very good, Miss," says Towlinson. 

44 Shocking circumstances occur, Towlinson," says Miss Tox. 

44 Very much so indeed, Miss," rejoins Towlinson. 

44 1 hope, Towlinson," says Miss Tox, who, in her instruc 
tion of the Toodle family, has acquired an admonitorial tone, 
and a habit of improving passing occasions, 44 that what has 
happened here, will be a warning to you, Towlinson." 

"Thank you, Miss, I'm sure," says Towlinson. 

He appeai-s to be falling into a consideration of the manner 
in which this warning ought to operate in his particular case, 
when the vinegary Mrs. Pipchin, suddenly stirring him up with 



344 DOMBEY AND SON. 

a " What are you doing ! Why don't you show the lady to 
the door!"" he ushers Miss Tox forth. As she passes Mr. 
Dombey's room, she shrinks into the inmost depths of the 
black bonnet, and walks on tip-toe ; and there is not another 
atom in the world which haunts him so, that feels such sorrow 
and solicitude about him, as Miss Tox takes out under the 
black bonnet into the street, and tries to carry home shadowed 
from the newly-lighted lamps. 

But Miss Tox is not a part of Mr. Dombey's world. She 
comes back every evening at dusk ; adding clogs and an 
umbrella to the bonnet on wet nights ; and bears the grins of 
Towlinson, and the huffs and rebuffs of Mrs. Pipchin, and all 
to ask how he does, and how he bears his misfortune : but 
she has nothing to do with Mr. Dombey's world. Exacting 
and harassing as ever, it goes on without her; and she, a 
by no means bright or particular star, moves in her little 
orbit in the corner of another system, and knows it quite 
well, and comes, and cries, and goes away, and is satisfied. 
Verily Miss Tox is easier of satisfaction than the world that 
troubles Mr. Dombey so much! 

At the Counting House, the clerks discuss the great disaster 
in all its lights and shades, but chiefly wonder who will get 
Mr. Carker's place. They are generally of opinion that it will 
be shorn of some of its emoluments, and made uncomfortable 
by newly-devised checks and restrictions ; and those who are 
beyond all hope of it, are quite sure they Avould rather not 
have it, and don't at all envy the person for whom it may 
prove to be reserved. Nothing like the prevailing sensation 
has existed in the Counting House since Mr. Dombey's little 
son died ; but all such excitements there take a social, not 
to say a jovial turn, and lead to the cultivation of good 
fellowship. A reconciliation is established on this propitious 
occasion between the acknowledged wit of the Counting House 
and an aspiring rival, with whom he has been at deadly feud 
for months; and a little dinner being proposed, in com 
memoration of their happily restored amity, takes place at a 



A MOST DELIGHTFUL EVENING. 345 

neighbouring tavern ; the wit in the chair ; the rival acting 
as Vice-President. The orations following the removal of the 
cloth are opened by the Chair, who says, Gentlemen, he can't 
disguise from himself that this is not a time for private dis 
sensions. Recent occurrences to which he need not more par 
ticularly allude, but which have not been altogether without 
notice in some Sunday Papers, and in a daily paper which he 
need not name (here every other member of the company 
names it in an audible murmur), have caused him to reflect ; 
and he feels that for him and Robinson to have any personal 
differences at such a moment, would be for ever to deny that 
good feeling in the general cause, for which he has reason to 
think and hope that the gentlemen in Dombey's House have 
always been distinguished. Robinson replies to this like a 
man and a brother; and one gentleman who has been in the 
office three years, under continual notice to quit on account 
of lapses in his arithmetic, appears in a perfectly new light, 
suddenly bursting out with a thrilling speech, in which he says, 
May their respected chief never again know the desolation 
which has fallen on his hearth ! and says a great variety of 
things, beginning with "May he never again," which are received 
with thunders of applause. In short, a most delightful evening 
is passed, only interrupted by a difference between two juniors, 
who, quarrelling about the probable amount of Mr. Carker's 
late receipts per annum, defy each other with decanters, and 
are taken out greatly excited. Soda water is in general request 
at the office next day, and most of the party deem the bill 
an imposition. 

As to Perch, the messenger, he is in a fair way of being 
ruined for life. He finds himself again constantly in bars of 
public-houses, being treated and lying dreadfully. It appears 
that he met everybody concerned in the late transaction, every 
where, and said to them, " Sir, 11 or " Madam, 11 as the case was, 
" why do you look so pale ? " at which each shuddered from 
head to foot, and said, " Oh, Perch ! " and ran away. Either 
the consciousness of these enormities, or the reaction consequent 



346 DOMBEY AND SON. 

on liquor, reduces Mr. Perch to an extreme state of low spirits 
at that hour of the evening when he usually seeks consolation 
in the society of Mrs. Perch at Balls Pond; and Mrs. Perch 
frets a good deal, for she fears his confidence in woman is 
shaken now, and that he half expects on coming home at 
night to find her gone off with some Viscount. 

O fj 

Mr. Dombey's servants are becoming, at the same time, 
quite dissipated, and unfit for other service. They have hot 
suppers every night, and " talk it over " with smoking drinks 
upon the board. Mr. Towlinson is always maudlin after half- 
past ten, and frequently begs to know whether he didn't say 
that no good would ever come of living in a corner house ? 
They whisper about Miss Florence, and wonder where she is; 
but agree that if Mr. Dombey don't know, Mrs. Dombey does. 
This brings them to the latter, of whom Cook says, She had 
a stately way though, hadn't she? But she was too high! 
They all agree that she was too high, and Mr. Towlinson's 
old flame, the housemaid (who is very virtuous), entreats that 
you will never talk to her any more about people who hold 
their heads up, as if the ground wasn't good enough for 'em. 

Everything that is said and done about it, except by Mr. 
Dombey, is done in chorus. Mr. Dombey and the Avorld are 
alone together. 



CHAPTER LIL 

SECRET INTELLIGENCE. 

GOOD Mrs. Brown and her daughter Alice kept silent company 
together, in their own dwelling. It was early in the evening, 
and late in the spring. But a few days had elapsed since Mr. 
Dombey had told Major Bagstock of his singular intelligence, 
singularly obtained, which might turn out to be valueless, 
and might turn out to be true; and the world was not 
satisfied yet. 

The mother and daughter sat for a long time without 
interchanging a word : almost without motion. The old 
woman's face was shrewdly anxious and expectant; that of 
her daughter was expectant too, but in a less sharp degree, 
and sometimes it darkened, as if with gathering disappoint 
ment and incredulity. The old woman, without heeding 
these changes in its expression, though her eyes were often 
turned towards it, sat mumbling and munching, and listening 
confidently. 

Their abode, though poor and miserable, was not so utterly 
wretched as in the days when only Good Mrs. Brown inhabited 
it. Some few attempts at cleanliness and order were manifest, 
though made in a reckless, gipsy way, that might have con 
nected them, at a glance, with the younger woman. The shades 
of evening thickened and deepened as the two kept silence, 
until the blackened walls were nearly lost in the prevailing 
gloom. 



348 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Then Alice broke the silence which had lasted so long, and 
said: 

"You may give him up, mother. He'll not come here." 

" Death give him up ! " returned the old woman, impatiently. 
" He will come here." 

"We shall see," said Alice. 

" We shall see him" returned her mother. 

" And doomsday," said the daughter. 

" You think I'm in my second childhood, I know ! " croaked 
the old woman. "That's the respect and duty that I get 
from my own gal, but I'm wiser than you take me for. He'll 
come. T'other day when I touched his coat in the street, he 
looked round as if I was a toad. But Lord, to see him when 
I said their names, and asked him if he'd like to find out 
where they was ! " 

" Was it so angry ? " asked her daughter, roused to interest 
in a moment. 

" Angry ? ask if it was bloody. That's more like the word. 
Angry ? Ha, ha ! To call that only angry ! " said the old 
woman, hobbling to the cupboard, and lighting a candle, which 
displayed the workings of her mouth to ugly advantage, as 
she brought it to the table. " I might as well call your face 
only angry, when you think or talk about 'em." 

It was something different from that, truly, as she sat as 
still as a crouched tigress, with her kindling eyes. 

" Hark ! " said the old woman, triumphantly. " I hear a 
step coming. It's not the tread of any one that lives about 
here, or comes this way often. We don't walk like that. 
We should grow proud on such neighbours ! Do you hear 
him?" 

"I believe you are right, mother," replied Alice, in a low 
voice. " Peace ! open the door." 

As she drew herself within her shawl, and gathered it about 
her, the old woman complied ; and peering out, and beckoning, 
gave admission to Mr. Dombey, who stopped when he had 
set his foot within the door, and looked distrustfully around. 



MR. DOMBEY VISITS MRS. BROWN. 349 

" It's a poor place for a great gentleman like your worship," 
said the old woman, curtseying and chattering. " I told you 
so, but there's no harm in it. 11 

"Who is that?" asked Mr. Dombey, looking at her com 
panion. 

"That's my handsome daughter," said the old woman. 
"Your worship won't mind her. She knows all about it." 

A shadow fell upon his face not less expressive than if 
he had groaned aloud, " Who does not know all about it ! " 
but he looked at her steadily, and she, without any acknow 
ledgment of his presence, looked at him. The shadow on 
his face was darker when he turned his glance away from 
her; and even then it wandered back again, furtively, as 
if he were haunted by her bold eyes, and some remembrance 
they inspired. 

"Woman," said Mr. Dombey to the old witch who was 
chuckling and leering close at his elbow, and who, when he 
turned to address her, pointed stealthily at her daughter, and 
rubbed her hands, and pointed again, " Woman ! I believe 
that I am weak and forgetful of my station in coming here, 
but you know why I come, and what you offered when you 
stopped me in the street the other day. What is it that you 
have to tell me concerning what I want to know; and how 
does it happen that I can find voluntary intelligence in a 
hovel like this," with a disdainful glance about him, " when 
I have exerted my power and means to obtain it in vain ? I 
do not think," he said, after a moment's pause, during which 
he had observed her, sternly, "that you are so audacious as 
to mean to trifle with me, or endeavour to impose upon me. 
But if you have that purpose, you had better stop on the 
threshold of your scheme. My humour is not a trifling one, 
and my acknowledgment will be severe." 

" Oh a proud, hard gentleman ! " chuckled the old woman, 
shaking her head, and rubbing her shrivelled hands, " oh hard, 
hard, hard ! But your worship shall see with your own eyes 
and hear with your own ears ; not with ours and if your 



350 DOMBEY AND SON. 

worship's put upon their track, you won't mind paying some 
thing for it, will you, honourable deary ? " 

"Money, 11 returned Mr. Dombey, apparently relieved, and 
reassured by this enquiry, "will bring about unlikely things, 
I know. It may turn even means as unexpected and unpro 
mising as these, to account. Yes. For any reliable informa 
tion I receive, I will pay. But I must have the information 
first, and judge for myself of its value. 1 ' 

" Do you know nothing more powerful than money ? " asked 
the younger woman, without rising, or altering her attitude. 

"Not here, I should imagine, 11 said Mr. Dombey. 

"You should know of something that is more powerful 
elsewhere, as I judge, 11 she returned. " Do you know nothing 
of a woman's anger ? " 

"You have a saucy tongue, Jade, 11 said Mr. Dombey. 

" Not usually, 11 she answered, without any show of emotion : 
" I speak to you now, that you may understand us better, and 
rely more on us. A woman's anger is pretty much the same 
here, as in your fine house. / am angry. I have been so, 
many years. I have as good cause for my anger as you have 
for yours, and its object is the same man. 11 

He started, in spite of himself, and looked at her with 
astonishment. 

" Yes, 11 she said, with a kind of laugh. " Wide as the 
distance may seem between us, it is so. How it is so, is no 
matter; that is my story, and I keep my story to myself. I 
would bring you and him together, because I have a rage 
against him. My mother there, is avaricious and poor; and 
she would sell any tidings she could glean, or anything, or 
anybody, for money. It is fair enough, perhaps, that you 
should pay her some, if she can help you to what you want 
to know. But that is not my motive. I have told you what 
mine is, and it would be as strong and all-sufficient with me 
if you haggled and bargained with her for a sixpence. I 
have done. My saucy tongue says no more, if you wait here 
till sunrise to-morrow.' 1 



MR. DOMBEY IN THE DARK. 351 

The old woman, who had shown great uneasiness during 
this speech, which had a tendency to depreciate her expected 
gains, pulled Mr. Dombey softly by the sleeve, and whispered 
to him not to mind her. He glanced at them both, by turns, 
with a haggard look, and said, in a deeper voice than was 
usual with him : 

" Go on what do you know ? " 

" Oh, not so fast, your worship ! we must wait for some 
one," answered the old woman. " If s to be got from some 
one else wormed out screwed and twisted from him." 

" What do you mean ? " said Mr. Dombey. 

" Patience," she croaked, laying her hand, like a claw, upon 
his arm. " Patience. Til get at it. I know I can ! If he 
was to hold it back from me," said Good Mrs. Brown, crooking 
her ten fingers, " I'd tear it out of him ! " 

Mr. Dombey followed her with his eyes as she hobbled to 
the door, and looked out again : and then his glance sought 
her daughter ; but she remained impassive, silent, and regard 
less of him. 

" Do you tell me, woman," he said, when the bent figure of 
Mrs. Brown came back, shaking its head and chattering to 
itself, " that there is another person expected here ? " 

" Yes 1 " said the old woman, looking up into his face, and 
nodding. 

"From whom you are to exact the intelligence that is to 
be useful to me?" 

" Yes," said the old woman, nodding again. 

" A stranger ? " 

" Chut ! n said the old woman, with a shrill laugh. " What 
signifies ! Well, well ; no. No stranger to your worship. But 
he won't see you. He'd be afraid of you, and wouldn't talk. 
You'll stand behind that door, and judge him for yourself. 
We don't ask to be believed on trust. What ! Your worship 
doubts the room behind the door ? Oh the suspicion of you 
rich gentlefolks ! Look at it, then." 

Her sharp eye had detected an involuntary expression of 



352 DOMBEY AND SON. 

this feeling on his part, which was not unreasonable under the 
circumstances. In satisfaction of it she now took the candle 
to the door she spoke of. Mr. Dombey looked in; assured 
himself that it was an empty, crazy room ; and signed to her 
to put the light back in its place. 

" How long,"" he asked, " before this person comes ? " 

" Not long," she answered. " Would your worship sit down 
for a few odd minutes? 11 

He made no answer; but began pacing the room with an 
irresolute air, as if he were undecided whether to remain or 
depart, and as if he had some quarrel with himself for being 
there at all. But soon his tread grew slower and heavier, and 
his face more sternly thoughtful : as the object with which 
he had come, fixed itself in his mind, and dilated there again. 

While he thus walked up and down with his eyes on the 
ground, Mrs. Brown, in the chair from which she had risen 
to receive him, sat listening anew. The monotony of his step, 
or the uncertainty of age, made her so slow of hearing, that 
a footfall without had sounded in her daughter's ears for some 
moments, and she had looked up hastily to warn her mother 
of its approach, before the old woman was roused by it. But 
then she started from her seat, and whispering " Here he is ! " 
hurried her visitor to his place of observation, and put a bottle 
and glass upon the table, with such alacrity as to be ready 
to fling her arms round the neck of Rob the Grinder on his 
appearance at the door. 

" And here's my bonny boy," cried Mrs. Brown, " at last ! 
oho, oho ! You're like my own son, Robby ! " 

" Oh ! Misses Brown ! " remonstrated the Grinder. " Don't ! 
Can't you be fond of a cove without squeedging and throttling 
of him ! Take care of the birdcage in my hand, will you ? " 

" Thinks of a birdcage, afore me ! " cried the old woman, 
apostrophizing the ceiling. "Me that feels more than a 
mother for him ! " 

"Well, I'm sure I'm very much obliged to you, Misses 
Brown," said the unfortunate youth, greatly aggravated ; " but 



MRS. BROWN TOO AFFECTIONATE. 353 

you're so jealous of a cove. Fin very fond of you myself, and 
all that, of course; but I don't smother you, do I, Misses 
Brown ? " 

He looked and spoke as if he would have been far from 
objecting to do so, however, on a favourable occasion. 

" And to talk about birdcages, too ! " whimpered the Grinder. 
" As if that was a crime ! Why, look'ee here ! Do you know 
who this belongs to?" 

" To Master, dear ? " said the old woman with a grin. 

" Ah ! " replied the Grinder, lifting a large cage tied up in 
a wrapper, on the table, and untying it with his teeth and 
hands. " It's our parrot, this is." 

"Mr. Carker's parrot, Rob ?" 

" Will you hold your tongue, Misses Brown ? " returned 
the goaded Grinder. " What do you go naming names for ? 
Frn blest," said Rob, pulling his hair with both hands in the 
exasperation of his feelings, "if she an't enough to make a 
cove run wild ! " 

" What ! Do you snub me, thankless boy ! " cried the old 
woman, with ready vehemence. 

" Good gracious, Misses Brown, no ! " returned the Grinder, 

with tears in his eyes. " Was there ever such a ! Don't 

I dote upon you, Misses Brown ? " 

" Do you, sweet Rob ? Do you truly, chickabiddy ? " With 
that, Mrs. Brown held him in her fond embrace once more; 
and did not release him until he had made several violent 
and ineffectual struggles with his legs, and his hair was 
standing on end all over his head. 

" Oh ! v returned the Grinder, " what a thing it is to be 
perfectly pitched into with affection like this here. I wish 
she was How have you been, Misses Brown ? " 

" Ah ! Not here since this night week ! " said the old 
woman, contemplating him with a look of reproach. 

" Good gracious, Misses Brown," returned the Grinder, " I 
said to-night's a week, that I'd come to-night, didn't I ? And 
here I am. How you do go on ! I wish you'd be a little 

Q A 



354 DOMBEY AND SON. 

rational, Misses Brown. I'm hoarse with saying things in my 
defence, and my very face is shiny with being hugged." He 
rubbed it hard with his sleeve, as if to remove the tender 
polish in question. 

"Drink a little drop to comfort you, my Robin," said the 
old woman, filling the glass from the bottle and giving it to 
him. 

" Thank'ee, Misses Brown," returned the Grinder. " Here's 
your health. And long may you et ceterer." Which to 
judge from the expression of his face, did not include any 
very choice blessings. "And here's her health," said the 
Grinder, glancing at Alice, who sat with her eyes fixed, as it 
seemed to him, on the wall behind him, but in reality on Mr. 
Dombey's face at the door, "and wishing her the same and 
many of 'em ! " 

He drained the glass to these two sentiments, and set it 
down. 

" Well, I say, Misses Brown ! " he proceeded. " To go on 
a little rational now. You're a judge of birds, and up to 
their ways, as I know to my cost." 

" Cost ! " repeated Mrs. Brown. 

" Satisfaction, I mean," returned the Grinder. " How you 
do take up a cove, Misses Brown ! You've put it all out of 
my head again." 

" Judge of birds, Hobby," suggested the old woman. 

" Ah ! " said the Grinder. " Well, I've got to take care of 
this parrot certain things being sold, and a certain establish 
ment broke up and as I don't want no notice took at 
present, I wish you'd attend to her for a week or so, and 
give her board and lodging, will you ? If I must come back 
wards and forwards," mused the Grinder with a dejected face, 
" I may as well have something to come for." 

"Something to come for?" screamed the old woman. 

" Besides you, I mean, Misses Brown," returned the craven 
Rob. " Not that I want any inducement but yourself, Misses 
Brown, I'm sure. Don't begin again, for goodness' sake." 



A LITTLE LIGHT UPON THE TRACK. 355 

" He dontt care for me ! He don't care for me, as I care 
for him ! " cried Mrs. Brown, lifting up her skinny hands. 
" But Til take care of his bird." 

"Take good care of it too, you know, Mrs. Brown, 11 said 
Rob, shaking his head. "If you was so much as to stroke 
its feathers once the wrong way, I believe it would be found 
out. 1 ' 

" Ah, so sharp as that, Rob ? " said Mrs. Brown, quickly. 

" Sharp, Misses Brown ! " repeated Rob. " But this is not 
to be talked about. 11 

Checking himself abruptly, and not without a fearful glance 
across the room, Rob filled the glass again, and having slowly 
emptied it, shook his head, and began to draw his fingers 
across and across the wires of the parrot^ cage by way of 
a diversion from the dangerous theme that had just been 
broached. 

The old woman eyed him slily, and hitching her chair 
nearer his, and looking in at the parrot, who came down from 
the gilded dome at her call, said : 

" Out of place now, Robby ? " 

"Never you mind, Misses Brown, 11 returned the Grinder, 
shortly. 

" Board wages, perhaps, Rob ? " said Mrs. Brown. 

" Pretty Polly ! " said the Grinder. 

The old woman darted a glance at him that might have 
warned him to consider his ears in danger, but it was his 

O 7 

turn to look in at the parrot now, and however expressive 
his imagination may have made her angry scowl, it was un 
seen by his bodily eyes. 

"I wonder Master didn't take you with him, Rob, 11 said 
the old woman, in a wheedling voice, but with increased 
malignity of aspect. 

Rob was so absorbed in contemplation of the parrot, and 
in trolling his forefinger on the wires, that he made no 
answer. 

The old woman had her clutch within a hair's breadth of 



356 DOMBEY AND SON. 

his shock of hair as it stooped over the table; but she 
restrained her fingers, and said, in a voice that choked with 
its efforts to be coaxing : 

" Robby, my child. 11 

" Well, Misses Brown, 11 returned the Grinder. 

" I say I wonder Master didn't take you with him, dear. 11 

" Never you mind, Misses Brown, 11 returned the Grinder. 

Mrs. Brown instantly directed the clutch of her right hand 
at his hair, and the clutch of her left hand at his throat, and 
held on to the object of her fond affection with such extra 
ordinary fury, that his face began to blacken in a moment. 

" Misses Brown ! " exclaimed the Grinder, " let go, will you ! 
What are you doing of! Help, young woman! Misses 
Brow Brow ! " 

The young woman, however, equally unmoved by his direct 
appeal to her, and by his inarticulate utterance, remained 
quite neutral, until, after struggling with his assailant into a 
corner, Rob disengaged himself, and stood there panting and 
fenced in by his own elbows, while the old woman, panting 
too, and stamping with rage and eagerness, appeared to be 
collecting her energies for another swoop upon him. At this 
crisis Alice interposed her voice, but not in the Grinder's 
favour, by saying, 

" Well done, mother. Tear him to pieces ! " 

" What, young woman ! " blubbered Rob ; " are you against 
me too ? What have I been and done ? W T hat am I to be 
tore to pieces for, I should like to know ? Why do you take 
and choke a cove who has never done you any harm, neither 
of you ? Call yourselves females, too ! " said the frightened 
and afflicted Grinder, with his coat-cuff at his eye. "I'm 
surprised at you ! Where's your feminine tenderness ? " 

"You thankless dog! 11 gasped Mrs. Brown. "You im 
pudent insulting dog ! " 

"What have I been and done to go and give you offence, 
Misses Brown? 11 retorted the fearful Rob. "You was very 
much attached to me a minute ago. 11 



A MAGIC CIRCLE. 357 

"To cut me off with his short answers and his sulky 
words," said the old woman. "Me! Because I happen to 
be curious to have a little bit of gossip about Master and the 
lady, to dare to play at fast and loose with me ! But I'll 
talk to you no more, my lad. Now go ! " 

" I'm sure, Misses Brown," returned the abject Grinder, " I 
never insiniwated that I Avished to go. Don't talk like that, 
Misses Brown, if you please." 

" I won't talk at all," said Mrs. Brown, with an action of 
her crooked fingers that made him shrink into half his 
natural compass in the corner. " Not another word with him 
shall pass my lips. He's an ungrateful hound. I cast him 
off. Now let him go ! And I'll slip those after him that 
shall talk too much ; that won't be shook away ; that'll 
hang to him like leeches, and slink arter him like foxes. 
What ! He knows 'em. He knows his old games and his 
old ways. If he's forgotten 'em, they'll soon remind him. 
Now let him go, and see how he'll do Master's business, and 
keep Master's secrets, with such company always following 
him up and down. Ha, ha, ha ! He'll find 'em a different 
sort from you and me, Ally ; close as he is with you and me. 
Now let him go, now let him go ! " 

The old woman, to the unspeakable dismay of the Grinder, 
walked her twisted finger round and round, in a ring of some 
four feet in diameter, constantly repeating these words, and 
shaking her fist above her head, and working her mouth about. 

" Misses Brown," pleaded Rob, coming a little out of his 
corner, "I'm sure you wouldn't injure a cove, on second 
thoughts, and in cold blood, would you ? " 

"Don't talk to me," said Mrs. Brown, still wrathfully 
pursuing her circle. " Now let him go, now let him go ! " 

"Misses Brown," urged the tormented Grinder, "I didn't 
mean to Oh, what a thing it is for a cove to get into such 
a line as this ! I was only careful of talking, Misses Brown, 
because I always am, on account of his being up to everything ; 
but I might have known it wouldn't have gone any further. 



358 DOMBEY AND SON. 

I'm sure I'm quite agreeable," with a wretched face, " for any 
little bit of gossip, Misses Brown. Don't go on like this, if 
you please. Oh, couldn't you have the goodness to put in a 
word for a miserable cove, here ! " said the Grinder, appealing 
in desperation to the daughter. 

"Come, mother, you hear what he says," she interposed, 
in her stern voice, and with an impatient action of her head ; 
" try him once more, and if you fall out with him again, ruin 
him, if you like, and have done with him." 

Mrs. Brown, moved as it seemed by this very tender ex 
hortation, presently began to howl ; and softening by degrees, 
took the apologetic Grinder to her arms, who embraced her 
with a face of unutterable woe, and like a victim as he was, 
resumed his former seat, close by the side of his venerable 
friend, whom he suffered, not without much constrained 
sweetness of countenance, combating very expressive phy 
siognomical revelations of an opposite character, to draw his 
arm through hers, and keep it there. 

"And how's Master, deary dear?" said Mrs. Brown, when, 
sitting in this amicable posture, they had pledged each other. 

" Hush ! If you'd be so good, Misses Brown, as to speak a 
little lower," Rob implored. " Why, he's pretty well, thank'ee, 
I suppose." 

"You're not out of place, Hobby?" said Mrs. Brown m a 
wheedling tone. 

" Why, I'm not exactly out of place, nor in," faltered Rob. 
" I I'm still in pay, Misses Brown." 

" And nothing to do, Rob ? " 

"Nothing particular to do just now, Misses Brown, but to 
keep my eyes open," said the Grinder, rolling them in a 
forlorn way. 

"Master abroad, Rob?" 

" Oh, for goodness' sake, Misses Brown, couldn't you gossip 
with a cove about anything else ! " cried the Grinder, in a 
burst of despair. 

The impetuous Mrs. Brown rising directly, the tortured 



MORE LIGHT UPON THE TRACK. 359 

Grinder detained her, stammering " Ye-es, Misses Brown, I 
believe he's abroad. What's she staring at?" he added, in 
allusion to the daughter, whose eyes were fixed upon the face 
that now again looked out behind him. 

"Don't mind her, lad," said the old woman, holding him 
closer to prevent his turning round. " It's her way her Avay. 
Tell me, Rob. Did you ever see the lady, deary ? " 

" Oh, Misses Brown, what lady ? " cried the Grinder in a 
tone of piteous supplication. 

" What lady ? " she retorted. " The lady ; Mrs. Dombey." 

"Yes, I believe I see her once," replied Rob. 

"The night she went away, Robby, eh?" said the old 
woman in his ear, and taking note of every change in his face. 
" Aha ! I know it was that night." 

"Well, if you know it was that night, you know, Misses 
Brown," replied Rob, "it's no use putting pinchers into a 
cove to make him say so." 

" Where did they go that night, Rob ? Straight away ? 
How did they go ? Where did you see her ? Did she laugh ? 
Did she cry ? Tell me all about it," cried the old hag, 
holding him closer yet, patting the hand that was drawn 
through his arm against her other hand, and searching every 
line in his face with her bleared eyes. " Come ! Begin ! I 
want to be told all about it. What, Rob, boy ! You and 
me can keep a secret together, eh? We've done so before 
now. Where did they go first, Rob ! " 

The wretched Grinder made a gasp, and a pause. 

"Are you dumb?" said the old woman, angrily. 

" Lord, Misses Brown, no ! You expect a cove to be a 
flash of lightning. I wish I was the electric fluency," muttered 
the bewildered Grinder. "I'd have a shock at somebody, 
that would settle their business." 

" What do you say ? " asked the old woman, with a grin. 

" I'm wishing my love to you, Misses Brown," returned the 
false Rob, seeking consolation in the glass. " Where did they 
go to first, was it ! Him and her, do you mean ? " 



360 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Ah ! " said the old woman, eagerly. " Them two. 1 ' 

"Why, they didn't go nowhere not together, I mean," 
answered Rob. 

The old woman looked at him, as though she had a strong 
impulse upon her to make another clutch at his head and 
.throat, but was restrained by a certain dogged mystery in his 
face. 

"That was the art of it," said the reluctant Grinder; 
" that's the way nobody saw 'em go, or has been able to say 
how they did go. They went different ways, I tell you, 
Misses Brown." 

" Ay, ay, ay ! To meet at an appointed place," chuckled 
the old woman, after a moment's silent and keen scrutiny of 
his face. 

"Why, if they weren't a going to meet somewhere, I 
suppose they might as well have stayed at home, mightn't 
they, Misses Brown ? " returned the unwilling Grinder. 

" Well, Rob ? Well ? " said the old woman, drawing his 
arm yet tighter through her own, as if, in her eagerness, she 
were afraid of his slipping away. 

" What, haven't we talked enough yet, Misses Brown ? " 
returned the Grinder, who, between his sense of injury, his 
sense of liquor, and his sense of being on the rack, had become 
so lachrymose, that at almost every answer he scooped his 
coat-cuff into one or other of his eyes, and uttered an 
unavailing whine of remonstrance. "Did she laugh that 
night, was it ? Didn't you ask if she laughed, Misses Brown ? " 

" Or cried ? " added the old woman, nodding assent. 

" Neither," said the Grinder. " She kept as steady when 
she and me oh, I see you will have it out of me, Misses 
Brown ! But take your solemn oath now, that you'll never 
tell anybody." 

This Mrs. Brown very readily did : being naturally 
Jesuitical ; and having no other intention in the matter 
than that her concealed visitor should hear for himself. 

" She kept as steady, then, when she and me went down to 



NOT CONTENTED YET. 361 

Southampton," said the Grinder, " as a image. In the morning 
she was just the same, Misses Brown. And when she went 
away in the packet before daylight, by herself me pretending 
to be her servant, and seeing her safe aboard she was just the 
same. Now, are you contented, Misses Brown ? " 

"No, Rob. Not yet,"" answered Mrs. Brown, decisively. 

" Oh, here's a woman for you ! " cried the unfortunate Rob, 
in an outburst of feeble lamentation over his own helplessness. 
" What did you wish to know next, Misses Brown ? " 

"What became of Master? Where did he go?" she 
inquired, still holding him tight, and looking close into his 
face, with her sharp eyes. 

"Upon my soul, I don't know, Misses Brown, 11 answered 
Rob. "Upon my soul I don't know what he did, nor where 
he went, nor anything about him. I only know what he said 
to me as a caution to hold my tongue, when we parted; and 
I tell you this, Misses Brown, as a friend, that sooner than ever 
repeat a word of what we're saying now, you had better take 
and shoot yourself, or shut yourself up in this house, and set 
it a-fire, for there's nothing he wouldn't do, to be revenged 
upon you. You don't know him half as well as I do, 
Misses Brown. You're never safe from him, I tell you.' 1 

"Haven't I taken an oath, 11 retorted the old woman, "and 
won't I keep it ? " 

"Well, Fm sure I hope you will, Misses Brown," returned 
Rob, somewhat doubtfully, and not without a latent threaten 
ing in his manner. "For your own sake quite as much as 
mine." 

He looked at her as he gave her this friendly caution, and 
emphasized it with a nodding of his head; but finding it 
uncomfortable to encounter the yellow face with its grotesque 
action, and the ferret eyes with their keen old wintry gaze, 
so close to his own, he looked down uneasily and sat shuffling 
in his chair, as if he were trying to bring himself to a sullen 
declaration that he would answer no more questions. The old 
woman, still holding him as before, took this opportunity of 



362 DOMBEY AND SON. 

raising the forefinger of her right hand, in the air, as a stealthy 
signal to the concealed observer to give particular attention 
to what was about to follow. 

"Rob, 11 she said, in her most coaxing tone. 

" Good gracious, Misses Brown, what's the matter now ? " 

O ' ' 

returned the exasperated Grinder. 

" Rob ! where did the lady and Master appoint to meet ? " 

Rob shuffled more and more, and looked up and looked 
down, and bit his thumb, and dried it on his waistcoat, and 
finally said, eyeing his tormentor askant, "How should / know, 
Misses Brown? 11 

The old woman held up her finger again, as before, and 
replying, " Come, lad ! It's no use leading me to that, and 
there leaving me. I want to know " waited for his answer. 

Rob, after a discomfited pause, suddenly broke out with, 
" How can I pronounce the names of foreign places, Mrs. 
Brown ? What an unreasonable woman you are ! " 

" But you have heard it said, Robby, 11 she retorted firmly, 
" and you know what it sounded like. Come ! " 

"I never heard it said, Misses Brown, 11 returned the 
Grinder. 

"Then, 11 retorted the old woman quickly, "you have seen 
it written, and you can spell it." 

Rob, with a petulant exclamation between laughing and 
crying for he was penetrated with some admiration of Mrs. 
Brown's cunning, even through this persecution after some 
reluctant fumbling in his waistcoat pocket, produced from it 
a little piece of chalk. The old woman's eyes sparkled when 
she saw it between his thumb and finger, and hastily clearing 
a space on the deal table, that he might write the word there, 
she once more made her signal with a shaking hand. 

" Now I tell you beforehand what it is, Misses Brown, 11 said 
Rob, "it's no use asking me anything else. I won"^ answer 
anything else ; I can't. How long it was to be before they 
met, or whose plan it was that they was to go away alone, I 
don't know no more than you do. I don't know any more 



THE TRACK BECOMES DISTINCT 363 

about it. If I was to tell you how I found out this word, 
you'd believe that. Shall I tell you, Misses Brown ? " 
"Yes, Rob." 

" Well then, Misses Brown. The way now you won't ask 
any more, you know ? " said Rob, turning his eyes, which were 
now fast getting drowsy and stupid, upon her. 
" Not another word," said Mrs. Brown. 

" Well then, the way was this. When a certain person left 
the lady with me, he put a piece of paper with a direction 
written on it in the lady's hand, saying it was in case she 
should forget. She wasn't afraid of forgetting, for she tore it 
up as soon as his back was turned, and when I put up the 
carriage steps, I shook out one of the pieces she sprinkled 
the rest out of the window, I suppose, for there was none 
there afterwards, though I looked for 'em. There was only 
one word on it, and that was this, if you must and will 
know. But remember ! You're upon your oath, Misses 
Brown!" 

Mrs. Brown knew that, she said. Rob, having nothing 
more to say, began to chalk, slowly and laboriously, on the 
table. 

"'D,'" the old woman read aloud, when he had formed 
the letter. 

" Will you hold your tongue, Misses Brown ? " he exclaimed, 
covering it with his hand, and turning impatiently upon her. 
" I won't have it read out. Be quiet, will you ! " 

" Then write large, Rob," she returned, repeating her secret 
signal ; " for my eyes are not good, even at print." 

Muttering to himself, and returning to his work with an 
ill will, Rob went on with the word. As he bent his head 
down, the person for whose information he so unconsciously 
laboured, moved from the door behind him to within a short 
stride of his shoulder, and looked eagerly towards the creep 
ing track of his hand upon the table. At the same time, 
Alice, from her opposite chair, watched it narrowly as it 
shaped the letters, and repeated each one on her lips as he 



364 DOMBEY AND SON. 

made it, without articulating it aloud. At the end of 
every letter her eyes and Mr. Dombey's met, as if each of 
them sought to be confirmed by the other; and thus they 
both spelt D. I. J. O. N. 

" There ! " said the Grinder, moistening the palm of his 
hand hastily, to obliterate the word ; and not content with 
smearing it out, rubbing and planing all trace of it away with 
his coat-sleeve, until the very colour of the chalk was gone 
from the table. "Now, I hope youVe contented, Misses 
Brown ! " 

The old woman, in token of her being so, released his arm 
and patted his back ; and the Grinder, overcome with mortifi 
cation, cross-examination, and liquor, folded his arms on the 
table, laid his head upon them, and fell asleep. 

Not until he had been heavily asleep some time, and was 
snoring roundly, did the old woman turn towards the door, 
where Mr. Dombey stood concealed, and beckon him to come 
through the room, and pass out. Even then, she hovered over 
Rob, ready to blind him with her hands, or strike his head 
down, if he should raise it while the secret step was crossing 
to the door. But though her glance took sharp cognizance 
of the sleeper, it was sharp too for the waking man ; and 
when he touched her hand with his, and in spite of all his 
caution, made a chinking, golden sound, it was as bright and 
greedy as a raven's. 

The daughter's dark gaze followed him to the door, and 
noted well how pale he was, and how his hurried tread 
indicated that the least delay was an insupportable restraint 
upon him, and how he was burning to be active and away. 
As he closed the door behind him, she looked round at her 
mother. The old woman trotted to her; opened her hand 
to show what was within ; and, tightly closing it again in her 
jealousy and avarice, whispered : 

" What will he do, Ally ? " 

"Mischief," said the daughter. 

" Murder ? " asked the old woman. 



IMPATIENT FOR ACTION. 365 

"He's a madman, in his wounded pride, and may do that, 
for anything we can say, or he either." 

Her glance was brighter than her mother's, and the fire 
that shone in it was fiercer ; but her face was colourless, even 
to her lips. 

They said no more, but sat apart; the mother communing 
with her money ; the daughter with her thoughts ; the glance 
of each, shining in the gloom of the feebly lighted room. 
Rob slept and snored. The disregarded parrot only was in 
action. It twisted and pulled at the wires of its cage, with 
its crooked beak, and crawled up to the dome, and along its 
roof like a fly, and down again head foremost, and shook, and 
bit, and rattled at every slender bar, as if it knew its master's 
danger, and was wild to force a passage out, and flv away to 
warn him of it. 



CHAPTER LIII. 

MORE INTELLIGENCE. 

THERE were two of the traitor's own blood his renounced 
brother and sister on whom the weight of his guilt rested 
almost more heavily, at this time, than on the man whom he 
had so deeply injured. Prying and tormenting as the world 
was, it did Mr. Dombey the service of nerving him to pursuit 
and revenge. It roused his passion, stung his pride, twisted 
the one idea of his life into a new shape, and made some 
gratification of his wrath, the object into which his whole 
intellectual existence resolved itself. All the stubbornness 
and implacability of his nature, all its hard impenetrable 
quality, all its gloom and moroseness, all its exaggerated sense 
of personal importance, all its jealous disposition to resent 
the least flaw in the ample recognition of his importance 
by others, set this way like many streams united into one, and 
bore him on upon their tide. The most impetuously passionate 
and violently impulsive of mankind would have been a milder 
enemy to encounter than the sullen Mr. Dombey wrought to 
this. A wild beast would have been easier turned or soothed 
than the grave gentleman without a wrinkle in his starched 
cravat. 

But the very intensity of his purpose became almost a 
substitute for action in it. While he was yet uninformed of 
the traitor's retreat, it served to divert his mind from his own 
calamity, and to entertain it with another prospect. The 



THE TRAITOR'S BROTHER AND SISTER 367 

brother and sister of his false favourite had no such relief; 
everything in their history, past and present, gave his de 
linquency a more afflicting meaning to them. 

The sister may have sometimes sadly thought that if she 
had remained with him, the companion and friend she had been 
once, he might have escaped the crime into which he had fallen. 
If she ever thought so, it was still without regret for what 
she had done, without the least doubt of her duty, without 
any pricing or enhancing of her self-devotion. But when this 
possibility presented itself to the erring and repentant brother, 
as it sometimes did, it smote upon his heart with such a keen, 
reproachful touch as he could hardly bear. No idea of retort 
upon his cruel brother came into his mind. New accusation 
of himself, fresh inward lamentings over his own un worthiness, 
and the ruin in which it was at once his consolation and his 
self-reproach that he did not stand alone, were the sole kind 
of reflections to which the discovery gave rise in him. 

It was on the very same day whose evening set upon the 
last chapter, and when Mr. Dombey's world was busiest with 
the elopement of his wife, that the window of the room in 
which the brother and sister sat at their early breakfast, was 
darkened by the unexpected shadow of a man coming to the 
little porch : which man was Perch the Messenger. 

"IVe stepped over from Balls Pond at a early hour," said 
Mr. Perch, confidentially looking in at the room door, and 
stopping on the mat to wipe his shoes all round, which had 
no mud upon them, " agreeable to my instructions last night. 
They was, to be sure and bring a note to you, Mr. Carker, 
before you went out in the morning. I should have been 
here a good hour and a half ago," said Mr. Perch, meekly, 
"but for the state of health of Mrs. P., who I thought I 
should have lost in the night, I do assure you, five distinct 
times."" 

" Is your wife so ill ? " asked Harriet. 

"Why, you see," said Mr. Perch, first turning round to 
shut the door carefully, " she takes what has happened in our 



368 DOMBEY AND SON. 

House so much to heart, Miss. Her nerves is so very delicate, 
you see, and soon unstrung. Not but what the strongest 
nerves had good need to be shook, I'm sure. You feel it very 
much yourself, no doubts."" 

Harriet repressed a sigh, and glanced at her brother. 

"I'm sure I feel it myself, in my humble way," Mr. Perch 
went on to say, with a shake of his head, " in a manner I 
couldn't have believed if I hadn't been called upon to undergo. 
It has almost the effect of drink upon me. I literally feels 
every morning as if I had been taking more than was good 
for me over-night." 

Mr. Perch's appearance corroborated this recital of his 
symptoms. There was an air of feverish lassitude about it, 
that seemed referable to drams ; and which, in fact, might no 
doubt have been traced to those numerous discoveries of him 
self in the bars of public-houses, being treated and questioned, 
which he was in the daily habit of making. 

"Therefore I can judge," said Mr. Perch, shaking his head 
again, and speaking in a silvery murmur, " of the feelings of 
such as is at all peculiarly sitiwated in this most painful 
rewelation." 

Here Mr. Perch waited to be confided in ; and receiving no 
confidence, coughed behind his hand. This leading to nothing, 
he coughed behind his hat; and that leading to nothing, he 
put his hat on the ground and sought in his breast pocket 
for the letter. 

" If I rightly recollect, there was no answer," said Mr. Perch, 
with an affable smile ; " but perhaps you'll be so good as cast 
your eye over it, Sir." 

John Carker broke the seal, which was Mr. Dombey's, and 
possessing himself of the contents, which were very brief, 
replied, " No. No answer is expected." 

"Then I shall wish you good morning, Miss," said Perch, 
taking a step toward the door, "and hoping, I'm sure, that 
you'll not permit yourself to be more reduced in mind than 
you can help, by the late painful rewelation. The Papers," 



JOHN CARKER IS DISMISSED. 369 

said Mr. Perch, taking two steps back again, and compre 
hensively addressing both the brother and sister in a whisper 
of increased mystery, " is more eager for news of it than you'd 
suppose possible. One of the Sunday ones, in a blue cloak 
and a white hat, that had previously offered for to bribe 
me need I say with what success ? was dodging about our 
court last night as late as twenty minutes after eight o'clock. 
I see him myself, with his eye at the counting-house keyhole, 
which being patent is impervious. Another one, 11 said Mr. 
Perch, " with milintary frogs, is in the parlour of the King's 
Arms all the blessed day. I happened, last week, to let a 
little obserwation fall there, and next morning, which was 
Sunday, I see it worked up in print, in a most surprising 
manner. 11 

Mr. Perch resorted to his breast pocket, as if to produce 
the paragraph, but receiving no encouragement, pulled out 
his beaver gloves, picked up his hat, and took his leave; and 
before it was high noon, Mr. Perch had related to several 
select audiences at the King's Arms and elsewhere, how Miss 
Carker, bursting into tears, had caught him by both hands, 
and said, " Oh ! dear dear Perch, the sight of you is all the 
comfort I have left ! " and how Mr. John Carker had said, in 
an awful voice, "Perch, I disown him. Never let me hear 
him mentioned as a brother more ! " 

"Dear John, 11 said Harriet, when they were left alone, and 
had remained silent for some few moments. "There are bad 
tidings in that letter." 

"Yes. But nothing unexpected, 11 he replied. "I saw the 
writer yesterday." 

"The writer?" 

"Mr. Dombey. He passed twice through the counting- 
house while I was there. I had been able to avoid him before, 
but of course could not hope to do that long. I know how 
natural it was that he should regard my presence as some 
thing offensive ; I felt it must be so, myself." 

" He did not say so ? " 

VOL. n. 2 B 



370 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" No ; he said nothing : but I saw that his glance rested 
on me for a moment, and I was prepared for what would 
happen for what lias happened. I am dismissed ! " 

She looked as little shocked and as hopeful as she could, 
but it was distressing news, for many reasons. 

'"I need not tell you,'" said John Carker, reading the letter, 
" ' why your name would henceforth have an unnatural sound, 
in however remote a connexion with mine, or why the daily 
sight of any one who bears it, would be unendurable to me. 
I have to notify the cessation of all engagements between us, 
from this date, and to request that no renewal of any com 
munication with me, or my establishment, be ever attempted 
by you/ Enclosed is an equivalent in money to a generously 
long notice, and this is my discharge. Heaven knows, Harriet, 
it is a lenient and considerate one, when we remember all ! " 

"If it be lenient and considerate to punish you at all, 
John, for the misdeed of another, 11 she replied gently, " yes. 11 

"We have been an ill-omened race to him, 11 said John 
Carker. " He has reason to shrink from the sound of our 
name, and to think that there is something cursed and wicked 
in our blood. I should almost think it too, Harriet, but 
for you. 11 

"Brother, don't speak like this. If you have any special 
reason, as you say you have, and think you have though I 
say, No ! to love me, spare me the hearing of such wild mad 
words ! " 

He covered his face with both his hands ; but soon permitted 
her, coming near him, to take one in her own. 

"After so many years, this parting is a melancholy thing, 
I know, 11 said his sister, " and the cause of it is dreadful to us 
both. We have to live, too, and must look about us for the 
means. Well, well ! We can do so, undismayed. It is our 
pride, not our trouble, to strive, John, and to strive together ! " 

A smile played on her lips, as she kissed his cheek, and 
entreated him to be of good cheer. 

"Oh, dearest sister! Tied, of your own noble will, to a 



IN POSSESSION OF A FRIEND. 371 

ruined man ! whose reputation is blighted ; who has no friend 
himself, and has driven every friend of yours away ! " 

" John ! " she laid her hand hastily upon his lips, " for 
my sake ! In remembrance of our long companionship ! " 
He was silent. "Now let me tell you, dear," quietly sitting 
by his side, " I have, as you have, expected this ; and when 
I have been thinking of it, and fearing that it would happen, 
and preparing myself for it, as well as I could, I have 
resolved to tell you, if it should be so, that I have kept a 
secret from you, and that we have a friend."" 

" What's our friend's name, Harriet ? " he answered with a 
sorrowful smile. 

"Indeed, I don't know, but he once made a very earnest 
protestation to me of his friendship and his wish to serve us : 
and to this day I believe him. 11 

" Harriet ! 11 exclaimed her wondering brother, " where does 
this friend live ? " 

" Neither do I know that," she returned. " But he knows 
us both, and our history all our little history, John. That 
is the reason why, at his own suggestion, I have kept the 
secret of his coming here, from you, lest his acquaintance 
with it should distress you. 11 

" Here ! Has he been here, Harriet ? " 

" Here, in this room. Once." 

"What kind of man?" 

"Not young. ' Grey-headed, 1 as he said, 'and fast growing 
greyer. 1 But generous, and frank, and good, I am sure." 

"And only seen once, Harriet? 11 

" In this room only once," said his sister, with the slightest 
and most transient glow upon her cheek ; " but when here, 
he entreated me to suffer him to see me once a week as he 
passed by, in token of our being well, and continuing to need 
nothing at his hands. For I told him, when he proffered us 
any service he could render which was the object of his visit 
that we needed nothing. 11 

"And once a week " 



372 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Once every week since then, and always on the same day, 
and at the same hour, he has gone past; always on foot; 
always going in the same direction towards London; and 
never pausing longer than to bow to me, and wave his hand 
cheerfully, as a kind guardian might. He made that promise 
when he proposed these curious interviews, and has kept it 
so faithfully and pleasantly, that if I ever felt any trifling 
uneasiness about them in the beginning (which I don't think 
I did, John ; his manner was so plain and true) it very soon 
vanished, and left me quite glad when the day was coming. 
Last Monday the first since this terrible event he did not 
go by ; and I have wondered whether his absence can have 
been in any way connected with what has happened." 

"How?" inquired her brother. 

"I don't know how. I have only speculated on the coin 
cidence ; I have not tried to account for it. I feel sure he 
will return. When he does, dear John, let me tell him that 
I have at last spoken to you, and let me bring you together. 
He will certainly help us to a new livelihood. His entreaty 
was that he might do something to smooth my life and 
yours; and I gave him my promise that if we ever wanted 
a friend, I would remember him. Then his name was to be 
no secret." 

"Harriet," said her brother, who had listened with close 
attention, "describe this gentleman to me. I surely ought 
to know one Avho knows me so well." 

His sister painted, as vividly as she could, the features, 
stature, and dress of her visitor; but John Carker, either 
from having no knowledge of the original, or from some fault 
in her description, or from some abstraction of his thoughts 
as he walked to and fro, pondering, could not recognise the 
portrait she presented to him. 

However, it was agreed between them that he should see the 
original when he next appeared. This concluded, the sister 
applied herself, with a less anxious breast, to her domestic 
occupations ; and the grey-haired man, late Junior of Dombey's, 



MR. MORFIN. 373 

devoted the first day of his unwonted liberty to working in 
the garden. 

It was quite late at night, and the brother was reading 
aloud while the sister plied her needle, when they were 
interrupted by a knocking at the door. In the atmosphere 
of vague anxiety and dread that lowered about them in con 
nexion with their fugitive brother, this sound, unusual there, 
became almost alarming. The brother going to the door, 
the sister sat and listened timidly. Some one spoke to him, 
and he replied and seemed surprised ; and after a few words, 
the two approached together. 

"Harriet," said her brother, lighting in their late visitor, 
and speaking in a low voice, " Mr. Morfin the gentleman so 
long in Dombey's House with James."" 

His sister started back, as if a ghost had entered. In the 
doorway stood the unknown friend, with the dark hair 
sprinkled with grey, the ruddy face, the broad clear brow, 
and hazel eyes, whose secret she had kept so long! 

" John ! " she said, half-breathless. " It is the gentleman I 
told you of, to-day ! " 

" The gentleman, Miss Harriet," said the visitor, coming in 
for he had stopped a moment in the doorway "is greatlv 
relieved to hear you say that : he has been devising ways and 
means, all the way here, of explaining himself, and has been 
satisfied with none. Mr. John, I am not quite a stranger 
here. You were stricken with astonishment when you saw me 
at your door just now. I observe you are more astonished 
at present. Well ! That's reasonable enough under existing 
circumstances. If we were not such creatures of habit as we 
are, we shouldn't have reason to be astonished half so often." 

By this time, he had greeted Harriet with that agreeable 
mingling of cordiality and respect which she recollected so 
well, and had sat down near her, pulled off his gloves, and 
thrown them into his hat upon the table. 

"There's nothing astonishing," he said, "in my having 
conceived a desire to see your sister, Mr. John, or in my 



374 DOMBEY AND SON. 

having gratified it in my own way. As to the regularity of 
my visits since (which she may have mentioned to you), there 
is nothing extraordinary in that. They soon grew into a 
habit ; and we are creatures of habit creatures of habit ! " 

Putting his hands into his pockets, and leaning back in his 
chair, he looked at the brother and sister as if it were interest 
ing to him to see them together ; and went on to say, with a 
kind of irritable thoughtfulness : " It's this same habit that 
confirms some of us, who are capable of better things, in 
Lucifer's own pride and stubbornness that confirms and 
deepens others of us in villany more of us in indifference 
that hardens us from day to day, according to the temper of 
our clay, like images, and leaves us as susceptible as images 
to new impressions and convictions. You shall judge of its 
influence on me, John. For more years than I need name, 1 
had my small, and exactly defined share, in the management 
of Dombey's House, and saw your brother (who has proved 
himself a scoundrel ! Your sister will forgive my being obliged 
to mention it) extending and extending his influence, until the 
business and its owner were his football ; and saw you toiling 
at your obscure desk every day ; and was quite content to be 
as little troubled as I might be, out of my own strip of duty, 
and to let everything about me go on, day by day, un 
questioned, like a great machine that was its habit and mine 
and to take it all for granted, and consider it all right. My 
Wednesday nights came regularly round, our quartette parties 
came regularly off, my violoncello was in good tune, and 
there was nothing wrong in my world or if anything not 
much or little or much, it was no affair of mine." 

"I can answer for your being more respected and beloved 
during all that time than anybody in the House, Sir," said 
John Carker. 

" Pooh ! Good-natured and easy enough, I dare say," 
returned the other, " a habit I had. It suited the Manager ; 
it suited the man he managed : it suited me best of all. I 
did what was allotted to me to do, made no court to either 



A CONVERSATION OVERHEARD. 375 

of them, and was glad to occupy a station in which none was 
required. So I should have gone on till now, but that my 
room had a thin wall. You can tell your sister that it was 
divided from the Manager's room by a wainscot partition." 

"They were adjoining rooms; had been one, perhaps, 
originally; and were separated, as Mr. Morfin says," said her 
brother, looking back to him for the resumption of his 
explanation. 

"I have whistled, hummed tunes, gone accurately through 
the whole of Beethoven's Sonata in B, to let him know that 
I was within hearing," said Mr. Morfin ; " but he never 
heeded me. It happened seldom enough that I was within 
hearing of anything of a private nature, certainly. But when 
I was, and couldn't otherwise avoid knowing something of 
it, I walked out. I walked out once, John, during a con 
versation between two brothers, to which, in the beginning, 
young Walter Gay was a party. But I overheard some of 
it before I left the room. You remember it sufficiently, 
perhaps, to tell your sister what its nature was ? " 

"It referred, Harriet," said her brother in a low voice, "to 
the past, and to our relative positions in the House." 

"Its matter was not new to me, but was presented in a 
new aspect. It shook me in my habit the habit of nine- 
tenths of the world of believing that all was right about 
me, because I was used to it," said their visitor ; " and 
induced me to recall the history of the two brothers, and to 
ponder on it. I think it was almost the first time in my 
life when I fell into this train of reflection how will many 
things that are familiar, and quite matters of course to us 
now, look when we come to see them from that new and 
distant point of view which we must all take up, one day 
or other ? I was something less good-natured, as the phrase 
goes, after that morning, less easy and complacent altogether." 

He sat for a minute or so, drumming with one hand on the 
table; and resumed in a hurry, as if he were anxious to get 
rid of his confession. 



376 BOMBEY AND SON. 

" Before I knew what to do, or whether I could do anything, 
there was a second conversation between the same two brothers, 
in which their sister was mentioned. I had no scruples of 
conscience in suffering all the waifs and strays of that conver 
sation to float to me as freely as they would. I considered 
them mine by right. After that, I came here to see the sister 
for myself. The first time I stopped at the garden gate, I 
made a pretext of inquiring into the character of a poor 
neighbour ; but I wandered out of that tract, and I think Miss 
Harriet mistrusted me. The second time I asked leave to 
come in; came in; and said what I wished to say. Your 
sister showed me reasons which I dared not dispute, for re 
ceiving no assistance from me then ; but I established a means 
of communication between us, which remained unbroken until 
within these few days, when I was prevented, by important 
matters that have lately devolved upon me, from maintaining 
them. 11 

" How little I have suspected this," said John Carker, " when 
I have seen you every day, Sir ! If Harriet could have guessed 
your name " 

" Why, to tell you the truth, John," interposed the visitor, 
" I kept it to myself for two reasons. I don't know that the 
first might have been binding alone ; but one has no business 
to take credit for good intentions, and I made up my mind, 
at all events, not to disclose myself until I should be able 
to do you some real service or other. My second reason was, 
that I always hoped there might be some lingering possibility 
of your brother's relenting towards you both ; and in that 
case, I felt that where there was the chance of a man of his 
suspicious, watchful character, discovering that you had been 
secretly befriended by me, there was the chance of a new and 
fatal cause of division. I resolved, to be sure, at the risk of 
turning his displeasure against myself which would have been 
no matter to watch my opportunity of serving you with the 
head of the House ; but the distractions of death, courtship, 
marriage, and domestic unhappiness, have left us no head but 



A WORD WITH HARRIET. 377 

your brother for this long, long time. And it would have 
been better for us," said the visitor, dropping his voice, " to 
have been a lifeless trunk." 

He seemed conscious that these latter words had escaped 
him against his will, and stretching out a hand to the brother, 
and a hand to the sister, continued : 

" All I could desire to say, and more, I have now said. All 
I mean goes beyond words, as I hope you understand and 
believe. The time has come, John though most unfortunately 
and unhappily come when I may help you without interfering 
with that redeeming struggle, which has lasted through so 
many years ; since you were discharged from it to-day by no 
act of your own. It is late; I need say no more to-night. 
You will guard the treasure you have here, without advice or 
reminder from me." 

With these words he rose to go. 

" But go you first, John," he said good-humouredly, " with 
a light, without saying what you want to say, whatever that 
may be ; " John Carker's heart was full, and he would have 
relieved it in speech, if he could ; " and let me have a word 
with your sister. We have talked alone before, and in this 
room too ; though it looks more natural with you here." 

Following him out with his eyes, he turned kindly to Harriet, 
and said in a lower voice, and with an altered and graver 
manner : 

"You wish to ask me something of the man whose sister 
it is your misfortune to be." 

"I dread to ask," said Harriet. 

"You have looked so earnestly at me more than once," 
rejoined the visitor, " that I think I can divine your question. 
Has he taken money ? Is it that ? " 

" Yes." 

He has not." 

" I thank Heaven ! " said Harriet. " For the sake of 
John." 

"That he has abused his trust in many ways," said Mr. 



378 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Morfin ; " that he has oftener dealt and speculated to advantage 
for himself, than for the House he represented ; that he has 
led the House on, to prodigious ventures, often resulting in 
enormous losses ; that he has always pampered the vanity and 
ambition of his employer, when it was his duty to have held 
them in check, and shown, as it was in his power to do, to 
what they tended here or there ; will not, perhaps, surprise 
you now. Undertakings have been entered on, to swell the 
reputation of the House for vast resources, and to exhibit it 
in magnificent contrast to other merchants 1 houses, of which 
it requires a steady head to contemplate the possibly a few 
disastrous changes of affairs might render them the probably 
ruinous consequences. In the midst of the many transactions 
of the House, in most parts of the world : a great labyrinth 
of which only he has held the clue : he has had the oppor 
tunity, and he seems to have used it, of keeping the various 
results afloat, when ascertained, and substituting estimates 
and generalities for facts. But latterly you follow me, Miss 
Harriet?" 

"Perfectly, perfectly," she answered, with her frightened 
face fixed on his. "Pray tell me all the worst at once. 1 ' 

"Latterly, he appears to have devoted the greatest pains 
to making these results so plain and clear, that reference to 
the private books enables one to grasp them, numerous and 
varying as they are, with extraordinary ease. As if he had 
resolved to show his employer at one broad view what has 
been brought upon him by ministration to his ruling passion ! 
That it has been his constant practice to minister to that 
passion basely, and to flatter it corruptly, is indubitable. In 
that, his criminality, as it is connected with the affairs of the 
House, chiefly consists. 1 ' 

" One other word before you leave me, dear Sir, 11 said Harriet. 
" There is no danger in all this ? " 

" How danger ? " he returned, with a little hesitation. 

"To the credit of the House?" 

"I cannot help answering you plainly, and trusting you 



DEPARTURE OF MR. MORFIN. 379 

completely,'"' said Mr. Morfin, after a moment's survey of her 
face. 

" You may. Indeed you may ! " 

"I am sure I may. Danger to the House's credit? No; 
none. There may be difficulty, greater or less difficulty, but 
no danger, unless unless, indeed the head of the House, 
unable to bring his mind to the reduction of its enterprises, 
and positively refusing to believe that it is, or can be, in any 
position but the position in which he has always represented 
it to himself, should urge it beyond its strength. Then it 
would totter. 1 ' 

" But there is no apprehension of that ?" said Harriet. 

" There shall be no half-confidence," he replied, shaking her 
hand, " between us. Mr. Dombey is unapproachable by any 
one, and his state of mind is haughty, rash, unreasonable, and 
ungovernable, now. But he is disturbed and agitated now 
beyond all common bounds, and it may pass. You now 
know all, both worst and best. No more to-night, and good 
night ! " 

With that he kissed her hand, and, passing out to the 
door where her brother stood awaiting his coming, put him 
cheerfully aside when he essayed to speak ; told him that, as 
they would see each other soon and often, he might speak at 
another time, if he would, but there was no leisure for it 
then; and went away at a round pace, in order that no 
word of gratitude might follow him. 

The brother and sister sat conversing by the fireside, until 
it was almost day ; made sleepless by this glimpse of the new 
world that opened before them, and feeling like two people 
shipwrecked long ago, upon a solitary coast, to whom a 
ship had come at last, when they were old in resignation, and 
had lost all thought of any other home. But another and 
different kind of disquietude kept them waking too. The 
darkness out of which this light had broken on them gathered 
around ; and the shadow of their guilty brother was in the 
house where his foot had never trod. 



380 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Nor was it to be driven out, nor did it fade before the sun. 
Next morning it was there ; at noon ; at night. Darkest and 
most distinct at night, as is now to be told. 

John Carker had gone out, in pursuance of a letter of 
appointment from their friend, and Harriet was left in the 
house alone. She had been alone some hours. A dull, grave 
evening, and a deepening twilight, were not favourable to the 
removal of the oppression on her spirits. The idea of this 
brother, long unseen and unknown, flitted about her in frightful 
shapes. He was dead, dying, calling to her, staring at her, 
frowning on her. The pictures in her mind were so obtrusive 
and exact that, as the twilight deepened, she dreaded to raise 
her head and look at the dark corners of the room, lest his 
wraith, the offspring of her excited imagination, should be 
waiting there, to startle her. Once she had such a fancy of 
his being in the next room, hiding though she knew quite 
well what a distempered fancy it was, and had no belief in 
it that she forced herself to go there, for her own conviction. 
But in vain. The room resumed its shadowy terrors, the 
moment she left it; and she had no more power to divest 
herself of these vague impressions of dread, than if they had 
been stone giants, rooted in the solid earth. 

It was almost dark, and she was sitting near the window, 
with her head upon her hand, looking down, when, sensible 
of a sudden increase in the gloom of the apartment, she 
raised her eyes, and uttered an involuntary cry. Close to 
the glass, a pale scared face gazed in ; vacantly, for an 
instant, as searching for an object; then the eyes rested on 
herself, and lighted up. 

" Let me in ! Let me in ! I want to speak to you ! " and 
the hand rattled on the glass. 

She recognised immediately the woman with the long dark 
hair, to whom she had given warmth, food, and shelter, one 
wet night. Naturally afraid of her, remembering her violent 
behaviour, Harriet, retreating a little from the window, stood 
undecided and alarmed. 



A FORMER VISITOR. 381 

" Let me in ! Let me speak to you ! I am thankful quiet 
humble anything you like. But let me speak to you. 111 

The vehement manner of the entreaty, the earnest expression 
of the face, the trembling of the two hands that were raised 
imploringly, a certain dread and terror in the voice akin to 
her own condition at the moment, prevailed with Harriet. 
She hastened to the door and opened it. 

"May I come in, or shall I speak here?' 1 said the woman, 
catching at her hand. 

"What is it that you want? What is it that you have 
to say? 11 

"Not much, but let me say it out, or I shall never say it. 
I am tempted now to go away. There seem to be hands 
dragging me from the door. Let me come in, if you can 
trust me for this once ! " 

Her energy again prevailed, and they passed into the fire 
light of the little kitchen, where she had before sat, and ate, 
and dried her clothes. 

"Sit there," said Alice, kneeling down beside her, "and 
look at me. You remember me?"" 

" I dor 

"You remember what I told you I had been, and where 
I came from, ragged and lame, with the fierce wind and 
weather beating on my head ? " 

" Yes." 

"You know how I came back that night, and threw your 
money in the dirt, and cursed you and your race. Now, see 
me here, upon my knees. Am I less earnest now, than I was 
then? 1 ' 

" If what you ask," said Harriet, gently, " is forgiveness " 

" But ifs not ! " returned the other, with a proud, fierce 
look. "What I ask is to be believed. Now you shall judge 
if I am worthy of belief, both as I was, and as I am." 

Still upon her knees, and with her eyes upon the fire, and 
the fire shining on her ruined beauty and her wild black hair, 
one long tress of which she pulled over her shoulder, and 



382 DOMBEY AND SON. 

wound about her hand, and thoughtfully bit and tore while 
speaking, she went on : 

" When I was young and pretty, and this," plucking con 
temptuously at the hair she held, " was only handled delicately, 
and couldn't be admired enough, my mother, who had not 
been very mindful of me as a child, found out my merits, and 
was fond of me, and proud of me. She was covetous and 
poor, and thought to make a sort of property of me. No 
great lady ever thought that of a daughter yet, I'm sure, or 
acted as if she did it's never done, we all know and that 
shows that the only instances of mothers bringing up their 
daughters wrong, and evil coming of it, are among such 
miserable folks as us." 

Looking at the fire, as if she were forgetful, for the moment, 
of having any auditor, she continued in a dreamy way, as she 
wound the long tress of hair tight round and round her hand. 

" What came of that, I needn't say. Wretched marriages 
don't come of such things, in our degree ; only wretchedness 
and ruin. Wretchedness and ruin came on me came on me." 

Raising her eyes swiftly from their moody gaze upon the 
fire, to Harriet's face, she said : 

" I am wasting time, and there is none to spare ; yet if I 
hadn't thought of all, I shouldn't be here now. Wretchedness 
and ruin came on me, I say. I was made a short-lived toy, 
and flung aside more cruelly and carelessly than even such 
things are. By whose hand do you think ? " 

" Why do you ask me ? " said Harriet. 

" Why do you tremble ?" rejoined Alice, with an eager look. 
" His usage made a Devil of me. I sunk in wretchedness and 
ruin, lower and lower yet. I was concerned in a robbery 
in every part of it but the gains and was found out, and 
sent to be tried, without a friend, without a penny. Though 
I was but a girl, I would have gone to Death, sooner than ask 
him for a word, if a word of his could have saved me. I 
would ! To any death that could have been invented. But 
my mother, covetous always, sent to him in my name, told 



A STARTLING REVELATION. 383 

the true story of my case, and humbly prayed and petitioned 
for a small last gift for not so many pounds as I have fingers 
on this hand. Who was it, do you think, who snapped his 
fingers at me in my misery, lying, as he believed, at his feet, 
and left me without even this poor sign of remembrance ; well 
satisfied that I should be sent abroad, beyond the reach of 
further trouble to him, and should die, and rot there ? Who 
Avas this, do you think ? " 

"Why do you ask me?" repeated Harriet. 

" Why do you tremble ? " said Alice, laying her hand upon 
her arm, and looking in her face, " but that the answer is on 
your lips ! It was your brother James."" 

Harriet trembled more and more, but did not avert her 
eyes from the eager look that rested on them. 

"When I knew you were his sister which was on that 
night I came back, weary and lame, to spurn your gift. I 
felt that night as if I could have travelled, weary and lame, 
over the whole world, to stab him, if I could have found him 
in a lonely place with no one near. Do you believe that I was 
earnest in all that?" 

"I do ! Good Heaven, why are you come again ? " 

" Since then," said Alice, with the same grasp of her arm, 
and the same look in her face, " I have seen him ! I have 
followed him with my eyes, in the broad day. If any spark 
of my resentment slumbered in my bosom, it sprung into a 
blaze when my eyes rested on him. You know he has wronged 
a proud man, and made him his deadly enemy. What if I 
had given information of him to that man ? " 

" Information ! " repeated Harriet. 

"What if I had found out one who knew your brother's 
secret ; who knew the manner of his flight ; who knew where 
he and the companion of his flight were gone ? What if I 
had made him utter all his knowledge, word by word, before 
his enemy, concealed to hear it ? What if I had sat by at the 
time, looking into this enemy's face, and seeing it change till 
it was scarcely human ? What if I had seen him rush awav, 



384 DOMBEY AND SON. 

mad, in pursuit? What if I knew, now, that he was on his 
road, more fiend than man, and must, in so many hours, come 
up with him ? " 

" Remove your hand ! " said Harriet, recoiling. " Go away ! 
Your touch is dreadful to me ! " 

" I have done this," pursued the other, with her eager look, 
regardless of the interruption. " Do I speak and look as if I 
really had? Do you believe what I am saying?" 

" I fear I must. Let my arm go ! " 

"Not yet. A moment more. You can think what my 
revengeful purpose must have been, to last so long, and urge 
me to do this?" 

" Dreadful ! " said Harriet. 

"Then when you see me now," said Alice hoarsely, "here 
again, kneeling quietly on the ground, with my touch upon 
your arm, with my eyes upon your face, you may believe that 
there is no common earnestness in what I say, and that no 
common struggle has been battling in my breast. I am 
ashamed to speak the words, but I relent. I despise myself; 
I have fought with myself all day, and all last night ; but I 
relent towards him without reason, and wish to repair what 
I have done, if it is possible. I wouldn't have them come 
together while his pursuer is so blind and headlong. If you 
had seen him as he went out last night, you would know the 
danger better." 

" How shall it be prevented ! What can I do ! " cried 
Harriet. 

" All night long," pursued the other, hurriedly, " I had 
dreams of him and yet I didn't sleep in his blood. All 
day, I have had him near me." 

" What can I do ! " cried Harriet, shuddering at these words. 

" If there is any one who'll write, or send, or go to him, let 
them lose no time. He is at Dijon. Do you know the name, 
and where it is ? " 

"Yes." 

"Warn him that the man he has made his enemy is in a 



A WARNING GIVEN. 385 

frenzy, and that he doesn't know him if he makes light of his 
approach. Tell him that he is on the road I know he is! 
and hurrying on. Urge him to get away while there is time 
if there is time and not to meet him yet. A month or 
so will make years of difference. Let them not encounter, 
through me. Anywhere but there ! Any time but now ! Let 
his foe follow him, and find him for himself, but not through 
me ! There is enough upon my head without." 

The fire ceased to be reflected in her jet black hair, uplifted 
face, and eager eyes ; her hand was gone from Harriet's arm ; 
and the place where she had been was empty. 



VOL. n. 2 c 



CHAPTER LIV. 

THE FUGITIVES. 

THE time, an hour short of midnight; the place, a French 
Apartment, comprising some half-dozen rooms; a dull cold 
hall or corridor, a dining-room, a drawing-room, a bed-chamber, 
and an inner drawing-room, or boudoir, smaller and more retired 
than the rest. All these shut in by one large pair of doors 
on the main staircase, but each room provided with two or 
three pairs of doors of its own, establishing several means of 
communication with the remaining portion of the apartment, 
or with certain small passages within the wall, leading, as is 
not unusual in such houses, to some back stairs with an obscure 
outlet below. The whole situated on the first floor of so large 
an Hotel, that it did not absorb one entire row of windows 
upon one side of the square court-yard in the centre, upon 
which the whole four sides of the mansion looked. 

An air of splendour, sufficiently faded to be melancholy, and 
sufficiently dazzling to clog and embarrass the details of life 
with a show of state, reigned in these rooms. The walls and 
ceilings were gilded and painted; the floors were waxed and 
polished; crimson drapery hung in festoons from window, 
door, and mirror; candelabra, gnarled and intertwisted, like 
the branches of trees, or horns of animals, stuck out from the 
panels of the wall. But in the day- time, when the lattice-blinds 
(now closely shut) were opened, and the light let in, traces 
were discernible among this finery, of wear and tear and dust, 



AT DIJON. 387 

of sun and damp and smoke, and lengthened intervals of want 
of use and habitation, when such shows and toys of life seem 
sensitive like life, and waste as men shut up in prison do. 
Even night, and clusters of burning candles, could not wholly 
efface them, though the general glitter threw them in the 
shade. 

The glitter of bright tapers, and their reflection in looldng- 
glasses, scraps of gilding and gay colours, were confined, on 
this night, to one room that smaller room within the rest, 
just now enumerated. Seen from the hall, where a lamp was 
feebly burning, through the dark perspective of open doors, 
it looked as shining and precious as a gem. In the heart of 
its radiance sat a beautiful woman Edith. 

She was alone. The same defiant, scornful woman still. 
The cheek a little worn, the eye a little larger in appearance, 
and more lustrous, but the haughty bearing just the same. 
No shame upon her brow; no late repentance bending her 
disdainful neck. Imperious and stately yet, and yet regardless 
of herself and of all else, she sat with her dark eyes cast down, 
waiting for some one. 

No book, no work, no occupation of any kind but her own 
thought, beguiled the tardy time. Some purpose, strong enough 
to fill up any pause, possessed her. With her lips pressed 
together, and quivering if for a moment she released them 
from her control ; with her nostril inflated ; her hands clasped 
in one another ; and her purpose swelling in her breast ; she 
sat, and waited. 

At the sound of a key in the outer door, and a footstep 
in the hall, she started up, and cried "Who's that?"" The 
answer was in French, and two men came in with jingling 
trays, to make preparation for supper. 

" Who had bade them to do so ? " she asked. 

"Monsieur had commanded it, when it was his pleasure to 
take the apartment. Monsieur had said, when he stayed 
there for an hour, en route, and left the letter for Madame 
Madame had received it surely ? " 



388 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Yes." 

*' A thousand pardons ! The sudden apprehension that it 
might have been forgotten had struck him ; " a bald man, 
with a large beard from a neighbouring restaurant: "with 
despair! Monsieur had said that supper was to be ready 
at that hour: also that he had forewarned Madame of the 
commands he had given, in his letter. Monsieur had done 
the Golden Head the honour to request that the supper should 
be choice and delicate. Monsieur would find that his con 
fidence in the Golden Head was not misplaced." 

Edith said no more, but looked on thoughtfully while they 
prepared the table for two persons, and set the wine upon it. 
She arose before they had finished, and taking a lamp, passed 
into the bed-chamber and into the drawing-room, where she 
hurriedly but narrowly examined all the doors; particularly 
one in the former room that opened on the passage in the 
wall. From this she took the key, and put it on the outer 
side. She then came back. 

The men the second of whom was a dark, bilious subject, 
in a jacket, close shaved, and with a black head of hair close 
cropped had completed their preparation of the table, and 
were standing looking at it. He who had spoken before, 
inquired whether Madame thought it would be long before 
Monsieur arrived ? 

" She couldn't say. It was all one." 

" Pardon ! There was the supper ! It should be eaten on 
the instant. Monsieur (who spoke French like an Angel or 
a Frenchman it was all the same) had spoken with great 
emphasis of his punctuality. But the English nation had so 
grand a genius for punctuality. Ah ! what noise ! Great 
Heaven, here was Monsieur. Behold him ! " 

In effect, Monsieur, admitted by the other of the two, came, 
with his gleaming teeth, through the dark rooms, like a mouth ; 
and arriving in that sanctuary of light and colour, a figure at 
full length, embraced Madame, and addressed her in the French 
tongue as his charming wife. 



THE ATTENDANTS DISMISSED. 389 

" My God ! Madame is going to faint. Madame is over 
come with joy ! " The bald man with the beard observed it, 
and cried out. 

Madame had only shrunk and shivered. Before the words 
were spoken, she was standing with her hand upon the velvet 
back of a great chair ; her figure drawn up to its full height, 
and her face immoveable. 

"Franfois has flown over to the Golden Head for supper. 
He flies on these occasions like an angel or a bird. The 
baggage of Monsieur is in his room. All is arranged. The 
supper will be here this moment." These facts the bald man 
notified with bows and smiles, and presently the supper came. 

The hot dishes were on a chafing-dish ; the cold already set 
forth, with the change of service on a side-board. Monsieur 
was satisfied with this arrangement. The supper table being 
small, it pleased him very well. Let them set the chafing- 
dish upon the floor, and go. He would remove the dishes 
with his own hands. 

" Pardon ! " said the bald man, politely. " It was im 
possible ! " 

Monsieur was of another opinion. He required no further 
attendance that night. 

" But Madame " the bald man hinted. 

" Madame," replied Monsieur, " had her own maid. It was 
enough."" 

" A million pardons ! No ! Madame had no maid ! " 

"I came here alone," said Edith. "It was my choice to 
do so. I am well used to travelling ; I want no attendance. 
They need send nobody to me." 

Monsieur accordingly, persevering in his first proposed im 
possibility, proceeded to follow the two attendants to the 
outer door, and secure it after them for the night. The bald 
man turning round to bow, as he went out, observed that 
Madame still stood with her hand upon the velvet back of 
the great chair, and that her face was quite regardless of him, 
though she was looking straight before her. 



390 DOMBEY AND SON. 

As the sound of Carker's fastening the door resounded 
through the intermediate rooms, and seemed to come hushed 
and stifled into that last distant one, the sound of the 
Cathedral clock striking twelve mingled with it, in Edith's 
ears. She heard him pause, as if he heard it too and listened ; 
and then came back towards her, laying a long train of foot 
steps through the silence, and shutting all the doors behind 
him as he came along. Her hand, for a moment, left the 
velvet chair to bring a knife within her reach upon the table ; 
then she stood as she had stood before. 

" How strange to come here by yourself, my love ! " he said 
as he entered. 

"What?" she returned. 

Her tone was so harsh; the quick turn of her head so 
fierce; her attitude so repellent; and her frown so black; 
that he stood, with the lamp in his hand, looking at her, as 
if she had struck him motionless. 

"I say," he at length repeated, putting down the lamp, 
and smiling his most courtly smile, " how strange to come 
here alone ! It was unnecessary caution surely, and might 
have defeated itself. You were to have engaged an attendant 
at Havre or Rouen, and have had abundance of time for the 
purpose, though you had been the most capricious and 
difficult (as you are the most beautiful, my love) of women. 1 " 

Her eyes gleamed strangely on him, but she stood with her 
hand resting on the chair, and said not a word. 

"I have never," resumed Carker, "seen you look so hand 
some, as you do to-night. Even the picture I have earned 
in my mind during this cruel probation, and which I have 
contemplated night and day, is exceeded by the reality." 

Not a word. Not a look. Her eyes completely hidden by 
their drooping lashes, but her head held up. 

" Hard, unrelenting terms they were ! " said Carker, with 
a smile, " but they are all fulfilled and passed, and make 
the present more delicious and more safe. Sicily shall be 
the place of our retreat. In the idlest and easiest part of 



LEFT ALONE TOGETHER. 391 

the world, my soul, we'll both seek compensation for old 
slavery. 1 ' 

He was coming gaily towards her, when, in an instant, she 
caught the knife up from the table, and started one pace 
back. 

" Stand still ! " she said, " or I shall murder you ! " 

The sudden change in her, the towering fury and intense 
abhorrence sparkling in her eyes and lighting up her brow, 
made him stop as if a fire had stopped him. 

"Stand still!" she said, "come no nearer me, upon your 
life! 11 

They both stood looking at each other. Rage and 
astonishment were in his face, but he controlled them, and 
said lightly, 

" Come, come ! Tush, we are alone, and out of everybody's 
sight and hearing. Do you think to frighten me with these 
tricks of virtue ? " 

"Do you think to frighten me" she answered fiercely, 
" from any purpose that I have, and any course I am resolved 
upon, by reminding me of the solitude of this place, and there 
being no help near? Me, who am here alone, designedly? 
If I feared you, should I not have avoided you ? If I feared 
you, should I be here, in the dead of night, telling you to 
your face what I am going to tell ? " 

"And what is that," he said, "you handsome shrew? 
Handsomer so, than any other woman in her best humour ? " 

" I tell you nothing," she returned, " until you go back to 
that chair except this, once again Don't come near me ! 
Not a step nearer. I tell you, if you do, as Heaven sees us, 
I shall murder you ! " 

" Do you mistake me for your husband ? " he retorted, with 
a grin. 

Disdaining to reply, she stretched her arm out, pointing 
to the chair. He bit his lip, frowned, laughed, and sat down 
in it, with a baffled, irresolute, impatient air, he was unable 
to conceal ; and biting his nail nervously, and looking at her 



392 DOMBEY AND SON. 

sideways, with bitter discomfiture, even while he feigned to 
be amused by her caprice. 

She put the knife down upon the table, and touching her 
bosom with her hand, said : 

" I have something lying here that is no love trinket ; and 
sooner than endure your touch once more, I would use it on 
you and you know it, while I speak with less reluctance 
than I would on any other creeping thing that lives. 1 " 

He affected to laugh jestingly, and entreated her to act 
her play out quickly, for the supper was growing cold. But 
the secret look with which he regarded her, was more sullen 
and lowering, and he struck his foot once upon the floor with 
a muttered oath. 

" How many times," said Edith, bending her darkest glance 
upon him, "has your bold knavery assailed me with outrage 
and insult? How many times in your smooth manner, and 
mocking words and looks, have I been twitted with my 
courtship and my marriage ? How many times have you 
laid bare my wound of love for that sweet, injured girl, and 
lacerated it? How often have you fanned the fire on which, 
for two years, I have writhed ; and tempted me to take a 
desperate revenge, when it has most tortured me?" 

" I have no doubt, Ma'am," he replied, " that you have kept 
a good account, and that it's pretty accurate. Come, Edith. 
To your husband, poor wretch, this was well enough " 

"Why, if," she said, surveying him with a haughty con 
tempt and disgust, that he shrunk under, let him brave it as 
he would, "if all my other reasons for despising him could 
have been blown away like feathers, his having you for his 
counsellor and favourite, would have almost been enough to 
hold their place." 

" Is that a reason why you have run away with me ? " he 
asked her, tauntingly. 

"Yes, and why we are face to face for the last time. 
Wretch ! We meet to-night, and part to-night. For not 
one moment after I have ceased to speak, will I stay here ! " 



SHE UNDECEIVES HIM. 393 

He turned upon her with his ugliest look, and griped the 
table with his hand ; but neither rose, nor otherwise answered 
or threatened her. 

"I am a woman," she said, confronting him steadfastly, 
"who from her very childhood has been shamed and steeled. 
I have been offered and rejected, put up and appraised, until 
my very soul has sickened. I have not had an accomplish 
ment or grace that might have been a resource to me, but it 
has been paraded and vended to enhance my value, as if the 
common crier had called it through the streets. My poor, 
proud friends, have looked on and approved; and every tie 
between us has been deadened in my breast. There is not 
one of them for whom I care, as I could care for a pet-dog. 
I stand alone in the world, remembering well what a hollow 
world it has been to me, and what a hollow part of it I have 
been myself. You know this, and you know that my fame 
with it is worthless to me. 11 

" Yes ; I imagined that," he said. 

"And calculated on it," she rejoined, "and so pursued me. 
Grown too indifferent for any opposition but indifference, to 
the daily working of the hands that had moulded me to this ; 
and knowing that my marriage would at least prevent their 
hawking of me up and down ; I suffered myself to be sold as 
infamously as any woman with a halter round her neck is 
sold in any market-place. You know that." 

" Yes," he said, showing all his teeth. " I know that." 
"And calculated on it," she rejoined once more, "and so 
pursued me. From my marriage day, I found myself exposed 
to such new shame to such solicitation and pursuit (expressed 
as clearly as if it had been written in the coarsest words, and 
thrust into my hand at every turn) from one mean villain, 
that I felt as if I had never known humiliation till that 
time. This shame my husband fixed upon me; hemmed me 
round with, himself; steeped me in, with his own hands, and 
of his own act, repeated hundreds of times. And thus forced 
by the two from every point of rest I had forced by the 



394 DOMBEY AND SON. 

two to yield up the last retreat of love and gentleness within 
me, or to be a new misfortune on its innocent object driven 
from each to each, and beset by one when I escaped the other 
my anger rose almost to distraction against both. I do not 
know against which it rose higher the master or the man ! " 
He watched her closely, as she stood before him in the very 
triumph of her indignant beauty. She was resolute, he saw ; 
undauntable ; with no more fear of him than of a worm. 

"What should I say of honour or of chastity to you!" 
she went on. " What meaning would it have to you ; what 
meaning would it have from me ! But if I tell you that 
the lightest touch of your hand makes my blood cold with 
antipathy ; that from the hour when I first saw and hated 
you, to now, when my instinctive repugnance is enhanced by 
every minute's knowledge of you I have since had, you have 
been a loathsome creature to me which has not its like on 
earth; how then?" 

He answered, with a faint laugh, "Aye! How then, my 
queen ? " 

" On that night, when, emboldened by the scene you had 
assisted at, you dared come to my room and speak to me," 
she said, " what passed ? " 

He shrugged his shoulders, and laughed again. 
" What passed ? " she said. 

" Your memory is so distinct," he returned, " that I have 
no doubt you can recall it." 

" I can," she said. " Hear it ! Proposing then, this flight 
not this flight, but the flight you thought it you told me 
that in the having given you that meeting, and leaving you to 
be discovered there, if you so thought fit ; and in the having 
suffered you to be alone with me many times before, and 
having made the opportunities, you said, and in the having 
openly avowed to you that I had no feeling for my husband 
but aversion, and no care for myself I was lost ; I had given 
you the power to traduce my name ; and I lived, in virtuous 
reputation, at the pleasure of your breath." 



UNOPENED LETTERS. 395 

" All stratagems in love " he interrupted, smiling. " The 
old adage " 

" On that night," said Edith, " and then the struggle that 
I long had had with something that was not respect for my 
good fame that was I know not what perhaps the clinging 
to that last retreat was ended. On that night, and then, I 
turned from everything but passion and resentment. I struck 
a blow that laid your lofty master in the dust, and set you 
there, before me, looking at me now, and knowing what I 
mean." 

He sprung up from his chair with a great oath. She put 
her hand into her bosom, and not a finger trembled, not a 
hair upon her head was stirred. He stood still : she too : 
the table and chair between them. 

"When I forget that this man put his lips to mine that 
night, and held me in his arms as he has done again to-night," 
said Edith, pointing at him ; " when I forget the taint of 
his kiss upon my cheek the cheek that Florence would have 
laid her guiltless face against when I forget my meeting with 
her, while that taint was hot upon me, and in what a flood 
the knowledge rushed upon me when I saw her, that in 
releasing her from the persecution I had caused by my love, I 
brought a shame and degradation on her name through mine, 
and in all time to come should be the solitary figure represent 
ing in her mind her first avoidance of a guilty creature then, 
Husband, from whom I stand divorced henceforth, I will 
forget these last two years, and undo what I have done, and 
undeceive you!" 

Her flashing eyes, uplifted for a moment, lighted again on 
Carker, and she held some letters out in her left hand. 

" See these ! " she said, contemptuously. " You have 
addressed these to me in the false name you go by ; one 
here, some elsewhere on my road. The seals are unbroken. 
Take them back ! " 

She crunched them in her hand, and tossed them to his feet. 
And as she looked upon him now, a smile was on her face. 



DOMBEY AND SON. 

" We meet and part to-night, 1 ' she said. " You have fallen 
on Sicilian days and sensual rest, too soon. You might have 
cajoled, and fawned, and played your traitor's part, a little 
longer, and grown richer. You purchase your voluptuous 
retirement dear ! " 

" Edith ! " he retorted, menacing her with his hand. " Sit 
down ! Have done with this ! What devil possesses you ? " 

"Their name is Legion," she replied, uprearing her proud 
form as if she Avould have crushed him; "you and your 
master have raised them in a fruitful house, and they shall 
tear you both. False to him, false to his innocent child, false 
every way and everywhere, go forth and boast of me, and 
gnash your teeth for once to know that you are lying ! " 

He stood before her muttering and menacing, and scowling 
round as if for something that would help him to conquer 
her; but with the same indomitable spirit she opposed him, 
without faltering. 

" In every vaunt you make," she said, " I have my triumph. 
I single out in you the meanest man I know, the parasite 
and tool of the proud tyrant, that his wound may go the 
deeper and may rankle more. Boast, and revenge me on him ! 
You know how you came here to-night; you know how you 
stand cowering there; you see yourself in colours quite as 
despicable, if not as odious, as those in which I see you. 
Boast then, and revenge me on yourself. 1 ' 

The foam was on his lips ; the wet stood on his forehead. 
If she would have faltered once for only one half-moment, he 
would have pinioned her; but she was as firm as rock, and 
her searching eyes never left him. 

" We don't part so," he said. " Do you think I am 
drivelling, to let you go in your mad temper ? " 

" Do you think," she answered, " that I am to be stayed ? " 

" I'll try, my dear," he said with a ferocious gesture of his 
head. 

" God's mercy on you, if you try by coming near me ! " she 
replied. 



BETRAYED. 397 

"And what," he said, "if there are none of these same 
boasts and vaunts on my part ? What if I were to turn too ? 
Come ! " and his teeth fairly shone again. " We must make a 
treaty of this, or / may take some unexpected course. Sit 
down, sit down ! " 

"Too late!" she cried, with eyes that seemed to sparkle 
fire. " I have thrown my fame and good name to the winds ! 
I have resolved to bear the shame that will attach to me 
resolved to know that it attaches falsely that you know it 
too and that he does not, never can, and never shall. Til 
die, and make no sign. For this I am here alone with you, 
at the dead of night. For this I have met you here, in a 
false name, as your wife. For this, I have been seen here by 
those men, and left here. Nothing can save you now.*" 

He would have sold his soul to root her, in her beauty, to 
the floor, and make her arms drop at her sides, and have her 
at his mercy. But he could not look at her, and not be afraid 
of her. He saw a strength within her that was resistless. He 
saw that she was desperate, and that her unquenchable hatred 
of him would stop at nothing. His eyes followed the hand 
that was put with such rugged uncongenial purpose into her 
white bosom, and he thought that if it struck at him, and 
failed, it would strike there, just as soon. 

He did not venture, therefore, to advance towards her : but 
the door by which he had entered was behind him, and he 
stepped back to lock it. 

"Lastly, take my warning! Look to yourself!"" she said, 
and smiled again. " You have been betrayed, as all betrayers 
are. It has been made known that you are in this place, or 
were to be, or have been. If I live, I saw my husband in a 
carnage in the street to-night ! " 

" Strumpet, it's false ! " cried Carker. 

At the moment, the bell rang loudly in the hall. He 
turned white, as she held her hand up like an enchantress, 
at whose invocation the sound had come. 

" Hark ! do you hear it ? " 



398 DOMBEY AND SON. 

He set his back against the door ; for he saw a change in 
her, and fancied she was coming on to pass him. But, in 
a moment, she was gone through the opposite doors commu 
nicating with the bed-chamber, and they shut upon her. 

Once turned, once changed in her inflexible unyielding look, 
he felt that he could cope with her. He thought a sudden 
terror, occasioned by this night-alarm, had subdued her; not 
the less readily, for her overwrought condition. Throwing 
open the doors, he followed, almost instantly. 

But the room was dark ; and as she made no answer to his 
call, he was fain to go back for the lamp. He held it up, 
and looked round everywhere, expecting to see her crouching 
in some corner; but the room was empty. So, into the 
drawing-room and dining-room he went, in succession, with 
the uncertain steps of a man in a strange place ; looking fear 
fully about, and prying behind screens and couches; but she 
was not there. No, nor in the hall, which was so bare that 
he could see that, at a glance. 

All this time, the ringing at the bell was constantly re 
newed ; and those without were beating at the door. He 
put his lamp down at a distance, and going near it, listened. 
There were several voices talking together : at least two of 
them in English ; and though the door was thick, and there 
was great confusion, he knew one of these too well to doubt 
whose voice it was. 

He took up his lamp again, and came back quickly through 
all the rooms, stopping as he quitted each, and looking round 
for her, with the light raised above his head. He was stand 
ing thus in the bed-chamber, when the door, leading to the 
little passage in the wall, caught his eye. He went to it, and 
found it fastened on the other side; but she had dropped a 
veil in going through, and shut it in the door. 

All this time the people on the stairs were ringing at the 
bell, and knocking with their hands and feet. 

He was not a coward : but these sounds ; what had gone 
before ; the strangeness of the place, which had confused him,. 



A NARROW ESCAPE. 399 

even in his return from the hall ; the frustration of his schemes 
(for, strange to say, he would have been much bolder, if they 
had succeeded); the unseasonable time; the recollection of 
having no one near to whom he could appeal for any friendly 
office ; above all, the sudden sense, which made even his heart 
beat like lead, that the man whose confidence he had outraged, 
and whom he had so treacherously deceived, was there to 
recognise and challenge him with his mask plucked off his 
face ; struck a panic through him. He tried the door in which 
the veil was shut, but couldn't force it. He opened one of 
the windows, and looked down through the lattice of the blind, 
into the court-yard ; but it was a high leap, and the stones 
were pitiless. 

The ringing and knocking still continuing his panic too 
he went back to the door in the bed-chamber, and with 
some new efforts, each more stubborn than the last, wrenched 
it open. Seeing the little staircase not far off, and feeling 
the night-air coming up, he stole back for his hat and coat, 
made the door as secure after him as he could, crept down 
lamp in hand, extinguished it on seeing the street, and having 
put it in a corner, went out where the stars were shining. 



CHAPTER LV. 

ROB THE GRINDER LOSES HIS PLACE. 

THE porter at the iron gate which shut the court-yard 
from the street, had left the little wicket of his house open, 
and was gone away ; no doubt to mingle in the distant noise 
at the door of the great staircase. Lifting the latch softly, 
Carker crept out, and shutting the jangling gate after him 
with as little noise as possible, hurried off. 

In the fever of his mortification and unavailing rage, the 
'panic that had seized upon him mastered him completely. It 
rose to such a height that he would have blindly encountered 
almost any risk, rather than meet the man of whom, two 
hours ago, he had been utterly regardless. His fierce arrival, 
which he had never expected ; the sound of his voice ; their 
having been so near a meeting, face to face, he would have 
braved out this, after the first momentary shock of alarm, and 
would have put as bold a front upon his guilt as any villain. 
But the springing of his mine upon himself, seemed to have 
rent and shivered all his hardihood and self-reliance. Spurned 
like any reptile ; entrapped and mocked ; turned upon, and 
trodden down by the proud woman whose mind he had slowly 
poisoned, as he thought, until she had sunk into the mere 
creature of his pleasure; undeceived in his deceit, and with 
his fox^s hide stripped off, he sneaked away, abashed, degraded, 
and afraid. 

Some other terror came upon him quite removed from this 



ORDERING CARRIAGE AND HORSES. 401 

of being pursued, suddenly, like an electric shock, as he was 
creeping through the streets. Some visionary terror, unin 
telligible and inexplicable, associated with a trembling of the 
ground, a rush and sweep of something through the air, like 
Death upon the wing. He shrunk, as if to let the thing go 
by. It was not gone, it never had been there, yet what a 
startling horror it had left behind. 

He raised his wicked face, so full of trouble, to the night 
sky, where the stars, so full of peace, were shining on him 
as they had been when he first stole out into the air ; and 
stopped to think what he should do. The dread of being 
hunted in a strange remote place, where the laws might not 
protect him the novelty of the feeling that it was strange 
and remote, originating in his being left alone so suddenly 
amid the ruins of his plans his greater dread of seeking 
refuge now, in Italy or in Sicily, where men might be hired 
to assassinate him, he thought, at any dark street corner 
the waywardness of guilt and fear perhaps some sympathy 
of action with the turning back of all his schemes impelled 
him to turn back too, and go to England. 

" I am safer there, in any case. If I should not decide," 
he thought, "to give this fool a meeting, I am less likely 
to be traced there, than abroad here, now. And if I should 
(this cursed fit being over), at least I shall not be alone, 
without a soul to speak to, or advise with, or stand by me. 
I shall not be run in upon and worried like a rat." 

He muttered Edith's name, and clenched his hand. As he 
crept along, in the shadow of the massive buildings, he set his 
teeth, and muttered dreadful imprecations on her head, and 
looked from side to side, as if in search of her. Thus, he stole 
on to the gate of an inn-yard. The people were a-bed ; but 
his ringing at the bell soon produced a man with a lantern, in 
company with whom he was presently in a dim coach-house, 
bargaining for the hire of an old phaeton, to Paris. 

The bargain was a short one ; and the horses were soon 
sent for. Leaving word that the carnage was to follow him 

VOL. II. 2 D 



402 DOMBEY AND SON. 

when they came, he stole away again, beyond the town, past 
the old ramparts, out on the open road, which seemed to glide 
away along the dark plain, like a stream. 

Whither did it flow ? What was the end of it ? As he 
paused, with some such suggestion within him, looking over 
the gloomy flat where the slender trees marked out the way, 
again that flight of Death came rushing up, again went on, 
impetuous and resistless, again was nothing but a horror in his 
mind, dark as the scene and undefined as its remotest verge. 

There was no wind ; there was no passing shadow on the 
deep shade of the night ; there was no noise. The city lay 
behind him, lighted here and there, and starry worlds were 
hidden by the masonry of spire and roof that hardly made 
out any shapes against the sky. Dark and lonely distance 
lay around him everywhere, and the clocks were faintly 
striking two. 

He went forward for what appeared a long time, and a long 
way ; often stopping to listen. At last the ringing of horses' 1 
bells greeted his anxious ears. Now softer, and now louder, 
now inaudible, now ringing very slowly over bad ground, now 
brisk and merry, it came on ; until with a loud shouting and 
lashing, a shadowy postilion muffled to the eyes, checked his 
four struggling horses at his side. 

" Who goes there ! Monsieur ? " 

"Yes." 

"Monsieur has walked a long way in the dark midnight. 11 

"No matter. Every one to his taste. Were there any 
other horses ordered at the Post-house ? " 

" A thousand devils ! and pardons ! other horses ? at this 
hour? No. 11 

"Listen, my friend. I am much hurried. Let us see how 
fast we can travel ! The faster, the more money there will be 
to drink. Off we go then ! Quick ! " 

" Halloa ! whoop ! Halloa ! Hi ! " Away, at a gallop, over 
the black landscape, scattering the dust and dirt like spray ! 

The clatter and commotion echoed to the hurry and 



A GALLOP IN THE NIGHT. 403 

discordance of the fugitive's ideas. Nothing clear without, 
and nothing clear within. Objects flitting past, merging into 
one another, dimly descried, confusedly lost sight of, gone ! 
Beyond the changing scraps of fence and cottage immediately 
upon the road, a lowering waste. Beyond the shifting images 
that rose up in his mind and vanished as they showed them 
selves, a black expanse of dread and rage and baffled villany. 
Occasionally, a sigh of mountain air came from the distant 
Jura, fading along the plain. Sometimes that rush which was 
so furious and horrible, again came sweeping through his 
fancy, passed away, and left a chill upon his blood. 

The lamps, gleaming on the medley of horses' heads, 
jumbled with the shadowy driver, and the fluttering of his 
cloak, made a thousand indistinct shapes, answering to his 
thoughts. Shadows of familiar people, stooping at their desks 
and books, in their remembered attitudes ; strange appari 
tions of the man whom he was flying from, or of Edith ; 
repetitions in the ringing bells and rolling wheels, of words 
that had been spoken ; confusions of time and place, making 
last night a month ago, a month ago last night home now 
distant beyond hope, now instantly accessible ; commotion, 
discord, hurry, darkness, and confusion in his mind, and all 
around him. Hallo ! Hi ! away at a gallop over the black 
landscape ; dust and dirt flying like spray, the smoking horses 
snorting arid plunging as if each of them were ridden by a 
demon, away in a frantic triumph on the dark road whither ! 

Again the nameless shock comes speeding up, and as it 
passes, the bells ring in his ears "whither?" The wheels 
roar in his ears " whither ? " All the noise and rattle shapes 
itself into that cry. The lights and shadows dance upon the 
horses 1 heads like imps. No stopping now : no slackening ! 
On, on ! Away with him upon the dark road wildly ! 

He could not think to any purpose. He could not separate 
one subject of reflection from another, sufficiently to dwell 
upon it, by itself, for a minute at a time. The crash of his 
project for the gaining of a voluptuous compensation for past 



404. DOMBEY AND SON. 

restraint; the overthrow of his treachery to one who had 
been true and generous to him, but whose least proud word 
and look he had treasured up, at interest, for years for false 
and subtle men will always secretly despise and dislike the 
object upon which they fawn, and always resent the payment 
and receipt of homage that they know to be worthless ; these 
were the themes uppermost in his mind. A lurking rage 
against the woman who had so entrapped him and avenged 
herself was always there; crude and misshapen schemes of 
retaliation upon her, floated in his brain ; but nothing was 
distinct. A hurry and contradiction pervaded all his thoughts. 
Even while he was so busy with this fevered, ineffectual think 
ing, his one constant idea was, that he would postpone 
reflection until some indefinite time. 

Then, the old days before the second marriage rose up in 
his remembrance. He thought how jealous he had been of 
the boy, how jealous he had been of the girl, how artfully 
he had kept intruders at a distance, and drawn a circle round 
his dupe that none but himself should cross; and then he 
thought, had he done all this to be flying now, like a scared 
thief, from only the poor dupe? 

He could have laid hands upon himself for his cowardice, 
but it was the very shadow of his defeat, and could not be 
separated from it. To have his confidence in his own 
knavery so shattered at a blow to be within his own know 
ledge such a miserable tool was like being paralysed. With 
an impotent ferocity he raged at Edith, and hated Mr. 
Dombey and hated himself, but still he fled, and could do 
nothing else. 

Again and again he listened for the sound of wheels 
behind. Again and again his fancy heard it, coming on 
louder and louder. At last he was so persuaded of this, 
that he cried out, " Stop ! " preferring even the loss of ground 
to such uncertainty. 

The word soon brought carriage, horses, driver, all in a 
heap together, across the road. 



A GALLOP THROUGH THE DAY. 405 

" The devil ! " cried the driver, looking over his shoulder, 
" what's the matter ! " 

"Hark! What's that? 1 ' 

"What?" 

"That noise?" 

" Ah Heaven, be quiet, cursed brigand ! " to a horse who 
shook his bells. " What noise ? " 

" Behind. Is it not another carriage at a gallop ? There ! 
what's that?" 

" Miscreant with a pig's head, stand still ! " to another horse, 
who bit another, who frightened the other two, who plunged 
and backed. "There is nothing coming." 

Nothing." 

" No, nothing but the day yonder." 

"You are right, I think. I hear nothing now, indeed. 
Go on ! " 

The entangled equipage, half hidden in the reeking cloud 
from the horses, goes on slowly at first, for the driver, checked 
unnecessarily in his progress, sulkily takes out a pocket-knife, 
and puts a new lash to his whip. Then " Hallo, whoop ! 
Hallo, hi ! " Away once more, savagely. 

And now the stars faded, and the day glimmered, and 
standing in the carriage, looking back, he could discern the 
track by which he had come, and see that there was no 
traveller within view, on all the heavy expanse. And soon 
it was broad day, and the sun began to shine on corn 
fields and vineyards; and solitary labourers, risen from little 
temporary huts by heaps of stones upon the road, were, here 
and there, at work repairing the highway, or eating bread. 
By and by, there were peasants going to their daily labour, 
or to market, or lounging at the doors of poor cottages, 
gazing idly at him as he passed. And then there was a 
postyard, ankle-deep in mud, with steaming dunghills and 
vast outhouses half ruined ; and looking on this dainty 
prospect, an immense, old, shadeless, glaring, stone chateau, 
with half its windows blinded, and green damp crawling lazily 



406 DOMBEY AND SON. 

over it, from the balustraded terrace to the taper tips of 
the extinguishers upon the turrets. 

Gathered up moodily in a corner of the carriage, and only 
intent on going fast except when he stood up, for a mile 
together, and looked back ; which he would do whenever there 
was a piece of open country he went on, still postponing 
thought indefinitely, and still always tormented with thinking 
to no purpose. 

Shame, disappointment, and discomfiture gnawed at his 
heart; a constant apprehension of being overtaken, or met 
for he was groundlessly afraid even of travellers, who came 
towards him by the way he was going oppressed him heavily. 
The same intolerable awe and dread that had come upon 
him in the night, returned unweakened in the day. The 
monotonous ringing of the bells and tramping of the 
horses ; the monotony of his anxiety, and useless rage ; the 
monotonous wheel of fear, regret, and passion, he kept turn 
ing round and round; made the journey like a vision, in 
which nothing was quite real but his own torment. 

It was a vision of long roads; that stretched away to an 
horizon, always receding and never gained ; of ill-paved towns, 
up hill and down, where faces came to dark doors and ill- 
glazed windows, and where rows of mud-bespattered cows 
and oxen were tied up for sale in the long narrow streets, 
butting and lowing, and receiving blows on their blunt heads 
from bludgeons that might have beaten them in ; of bridges, 
crosses, churches, postyards, new horses being put in against 
their wills, and the horses of the last stage reeking, panting, 
and laying their drooping heads together dolefully at stable 
doors ; of little cemeteries with black crosses settled sideways 
in the graves, and withered wreaths upon them dropping 
away ; again of long, long roads, dragging themselves out, 
up hill and down, to the treacherous horizon. 

Of morning, noon, and sunset; night, and the rising of 
an early moon. Of long roads temporarily left behind, and 
a rough pavement reached ; of battering and clattering over 



A MONOTONOUS JOURNEY. 407 

it, and looking up, among house-roofs, at a great church- 
tower; of getting out and eating hastily, and drinking 
draughts of wine that had no cheering influence ; of coming 
forth afoot, among a host of beggars blind men with quiver 
ing eyelids, led by old women holding candles to their faces; 
idiot girls ; the lame, the epileptic, and the palsied of pass 
ing through the clamour, and looking from his seat at the 
upturned countenances and outstretched hands, with a hurried 
dread of recognising some pursuer pressing forward of 
galloping away again, upon the long, long road, gathered 
up, dull and stunned, in his corner, or rising to see where 
the moon shone faintly on a patch of the same endless road 
miles away, or looking back to see who followed. 

Of never sleeping, but sometimes dozing with unclosed 
eyes, and springing up with a start, and a reply aloud to 
an imaginary voice. Of cursing himself for being there, 
for having fled, for having let her go, for not having con 
fronted and defied him. Of having a deadly quarrel with 
the whole world, but chiefly with himself. Of blighting 
everything with his black mood as he was carried on and 
away. 

It was a fevered vision of things past and present all con 
founded together ; of his life and journey blended into one. 
Of being madly hurried somewhere, whither he must go. Of 
old scenes starting up among the novelties through which 
he travelled. Of musing and brooding over what was past 
and distant, and seeming to take no notice of the actual 
objects he encountered, but with a wearisome exhausting con 
sciousness of being bewildered by them, and having their 
images all crowded in his hot brain after they were gone. 

A vision of change upon change, and still the same 
monotony of bells and wheels, and horses' feet, and no rest. 
Of town and country, postyards, horses, drivers, hill and 
valley, light and darkness, road and pavement, height and 
hollow, wet weather and dry, and still the same monotony 
of bells and wheels, and horses 1 feet, and no rest. A vision 



408 DOMBEY AND SON. 

of tending on at last, towards the distant capita], by busier 
roads, and sweeping round, by old cathedrals, and dashing 
through small towns and villages, less thinly scattered on 
the road than formerly, and sitting shrouded in his corner, 
with his cloak up to his face, as people passing by looked 
at him. 

Of rolling on and on, always postponing thought, and 
always racked with thinking; of being unable to reckon up 
the hours he had been upon the road, or to comprehend 
the points of time and place in his journey. Of being 
parched and giddy, and half mad. Of pressing on, in spite 
of all, as if he could not stop, and coming into Paris, where 
the turbid river held its swift course undisturbed, between 
two brawling streams of life and motion. 

A troubled vision, then, of bridges, quays, interminable 
streets ; of wine-shops, water-carriers, great crowds of people, 
soldiers, coaches, military drums, arcades. Of the monotony 
of bells and wheels and horses' feet being at length lost in 
the universal din and uproar. Of the gradual subsidence of 
that noise as he passed out in another carriage by a dif 
ferent barrier from that by which he had entered. Of the 
restoration, as he travelled on towards the sea-coast, of the 
monotony of bells and wheels, and horses 1 feet, and no rest. 

Of sunset once again, and nightfall. Of long roads again, 
and dead of night, and feeble lights in windows by the 
road-side; and still the old monotony of bells and wheels, 
and horses 1 feet, and no rest. . Of dawn, and daybreak, and 
the rising of the sun. Of toiling slowly up a hill, and feel 
ing on its top the fresh sea-breeze; and seeing the morning 
light upon the edges of the distant waves. Of coming down 
into a harbour when the tide was at its full, and seeing 
fishing-boats float on, and glad women and children waiting 
for them. Of nets and seamen's clothes spread out to dry 
upon the shore ; of busy sailors, and their voices high among 
ships' masts and rigging ; of the buoyancy and brightness of 
the water, and the universal sparkling. 



WORN OUT. 409 

Of receding from the coast, and looking back upon it from 
the deck when it was a haze upon the water, with here and 
there a little opening of bright land where the Sun struck. 
Of the swell, and flash, and murmur of the calm sea. Of 
another grey line on the ocean, on the vessel's track, fast 
growing clearer and higher. Of cliffs and buildings, and a 
windmill, and a church, becoming more and more visible upon 
it. Of steaming on at last into smooth water, and mooring 
to a pier whence groups of people looked down, greeting 
friends on board. Of disembarking, passing among them 
quickly, shunning every one; and of being at last again in 
England. 

He had thought, in his dream, of going down into a remote 
country-place he knew, and lying quiet there, while he secretly 
informed himself of what transpired, and determined how to 
act. Still in the same stunned condition, he remembered a 
certain station on the railway, where he would have to branch 
off to his place of destination, and where there was a quiet 
Inn. Here, he indistinctly resolved to tarry and rest. 

With this purpose he slunk into a railway carriage as 
quickly as he could, and lying there wrapped in his cloak as 
if he were asleep, was soon borne far away from the sea, and 
deep into the inland green. Arrived at his destination he 
looked out, and surveyed it carefully. He was not mistaken 
in his impression of the place. It was a retired spot, on the 
borders of a little wood. Only one house, newly-built or 
altered for the purpose, stood there, surrounded by its neat 
garden ; the small town that was nearest, was some miles away. 
Here he alighted then ; and going straight into the tavern, 
unobserved by any one, secured two rooms up stairs com- 
nicating with each other, sufficiently retired. 

His object was to rest, and recover the command of himself, 
and the balance of his mind. Imbecile discomfiture and rage 
so that, as he walked about his room, he ground his teeth 
had complete possession of him. His thoughts, not to 
be stopped or directed, still wandered where they would, and 



410 DOMBEY AND SON. 

dragged him after them. He was stupefied, and he was wearied 
to death. 

But, as if there were a curse upon him that he should never 
rest again, his drowsy senses Avould not lose their consciousness. 
He had no more influence with them in this regard, than if 
they had been another man's. It was not that they forced 
him to take note of present sounds and objects, but that they 
would not be diverted from the whole hurried vision of his 
journey. It was constantly before him all at once. She stood 
there, with her dark disdainful eyes again upon him ; and he 
was riding on nevertheless, through town and country, light 
and darkness, wet weather and dry, over road and pavement, 
hill and valley, height and hollow, jaded and scared by the 
monotony of bells and wheels, and horses' feet, and no rest. 

"What day is this?" he asked of the waiter, who was 
making preparations for his dinner. 

"Day, Sir? 11 

"Is it Wednesday? 1 ' 

" Wednesday, Sir ? No, Sir. Thursday, Sir." 

"I forgot. How goes the time? My watch is unwound." 

" Wants a few minutes of five o'clock, Sir. Been travelling 
a long time, Sir, perhaps ? " 

"Yes." 

"By rail, Sir?" 

" Yes." 

" Very confusing, Sir. Not much in the habit of travelling 
by rail myself, Sir, but gentlemen frequently say so." 

" Do many gentlemen come here ? " 

"Pretty well, Sir, in general. Nobody here at present. 
Rather slack just now, Sir. Everything is slack, Sir." 

He made no answer; but had risen into a sitting posture 
on the sofa where he had been lying, and leaned forward with 
an arm on each knee, staring at the ground. He could not 
master his own attention for a minute together. It rushed 
away where it would, but it never, for an instant, lost itself 
in sleep. 



NO REST. 411 

He drank a quantity of wine after dinner, in vain. No 
such artificial means would bring sleep to his eyes. His 
thoughts, more incoherent, dragged him more unmercifully 
after them as if a wretch, condemned to such expiation, were 
drawn at the heels of wild horses. No oblivion, and no rest. 

How long he sat, drinking and brooding, and being dragged 
in imagination hither and thither, no one could have told less 
correctly than he. But he knew that he had been sitting a 
long time by candle-light, when he started up and listened, 
in a sudden terror. 

For now, indeed, it was no fancy. The ground shook, the 
house rattled, the fierce impetuous rush was in the air! He 
felt it come up, and go darting by ; and even when he had 
hurried to the window, and saw what it was, he stood, shrink 
ing from it, as if it were not safe to look. 

A curse upon the fiery devil, thundering along so smoothly, 
tracked through the distant valley by a glare of light and 
lurid smoke, and gone ! He felt as if he had been plucked 
out of its path, and saved from being torn asunder. It made 
him shrink and shudder even now, when its faintest hum was 
hushed, and when the lines of iron road he could trace in the 
moonlight, running to a point, were as empty and as silent 
as a desert. 

Unable to rest, and irresistibly attracted or he thought 
so to this road, he went out and lounged on the brink of 
it, marking the way the train had gone, by the yet smoking 
cinders that were lying in its track. After a lounge of some 
half hour in the direction by which it had disappeared, he 
turned and walked the other way still keeping to the brink 
of the road past the inn garden, and a long way down ; 
looking curiously at the bridges, signals, lamps, and wondering 
when another Devil would come by 

A trembling of the ground, and quick vibration in his ears ; 
a distant shriek ; a dull light advancing, quickly changed to 
two red eyes, and a fierce fire, dropping glowing coals; an 
irresistible bearing on of a great roaring and dilating mass; 



412 DOMBEY AND SON. 

a high wind, and a rattle another come and gone, and he 
holding to a gate, as if to save himself ! 

He waited for another, and for another. He walked back 
to his former point, and back again to that, and still, through 
the wearisome vision of his journey, looked for these approach 
ing monsters. He loitered about the station, waiting until 
one should stay to call there ; and when one did, and was 
detached for water, he stood parallel with it, watching its 
heavy wheels and brazen front, and thinking what a cruel 
power and might it had. Ugh ! To see the great wheels 
slowly turning, and to think of being run down and crushed ! 

Disordered with wine and want of rest that want which 
nothing, although he was so weary, would appease these ideas 
and objects assumed a diseased importance in his thoughts. 
When he went back to his room, which was not until near 
midnight, they still haunted him, and he sat listening for the 
coming of another. 

So in his bed, whither he repaired with no hope of sleep. 
He still lay listening; and when he felt the trembling and 
vibration, got up and went to the window, to watch (as he 
could from its position) the dull light changing to the two 
red eyes, and the fierce fire dropping glowing coals, and the 
rush of the giant as it fled past, and the track of glare and 
smoke along the valley. Then he would glance in the direction 
by which he intended to depart at sunrise, as there was no 
rest for him there ; and would lie down again, to be troubled 
by the vision of his journey, and the old monotony of bells 
and wheels and horses 1 feet, until another came. This lasted 
all night. So far from resuming the mastery of himself, he 
seemed, if possible, to lose it more and more, as the night 
crept on. When the dawn appeared, he was still tormented 
with thinking, still postponing thought until he should be in 
a better state ; the past, present, and future, all floated con 
fusedly before him, and he had lost all power of looking 
steadily at any one of them. 

" At what time, 11 he asked the man who had waited on him 



NEAR THE JOURNEY'S END. 415 

over-night, now entering with a candle, " do I leave here, did 
you say ? " 

"About a quarter after four, Sir. Express comes through 
at four, Sir. It don't stop." 

He passed his hand across his throbbing head, and looked 
at his watch. Nearly half-past three. 

" Nobody going with you, Sir, probably, 11 observed the man. 
"Two gentlemen here, Sir, but they're waiting for the train 
to London. 1 " 

"I thought you said there was nobody here," said Carker, 
turning upon him with the ghost of his old smile, when he 
was angry or suspicious. 

" Not then, Sir. Two gentlemen came in the night by the 
short train that stops here, Sir. Warm water, Sir?" 

" No ; and take away the candle. There's day enough for 
me." 

Having thrown himself upon the bed, half-dressed, he was 
at the window as the man left the room. The cold light of 
morning had succeeded to night, and there was already, in 
the sky, the red suffusion of the coming sun. He bathed his 
head and face with water there was no cooling influence in 
it for him hurriedly put on his clothes, paid what he owed, 
and went out. 

The air struck chill and comfortless, as it breathed upon 
him. There was a heavy dew; and, hot as he was, it made 
him shiver. After a glance at the place where he had walked 
last night, and at the signal-lights burning feebly in the 
morning, and bereft of their significance, he turned to where 
the sun was rising, and beheld it, in its glory, as it broke 
upon the scene. 

So awful, so transcendent in its beauty, so divinely solemn. 
As he cast his faded eyes upon it, where it rose, tranquil and 
serene, unmoved by all the wrong and wickedness on which 
its beams had shone since the beginning of the world, who 
shall say that some weak sense of virtue upon Earth, and its 
reward in Heaven, did not manifest itself, even to him? If 



414 DOMBEY AND SON. 

ever he remembered sister or brother with a touch of tender 
ness and remorse, who shall say it was not then ? 

He needed some such touch then. Death was on him. He 
was marked off from the living world, and going down into 
his grave. 

He paid the money for his journey to the country -place he 
had thought of; and was walking to and fro, alone, looking 
along the lines of iron, across the valley in one direction, and 
towards a dark bridge near at hand in the other; when, 
turning in his walk, where it was bounded by one end of the 
wooden stage on which he paced up and down, he saw the 
man from whom he had fled, emerging from the door by 
which he himself had entered there. And their eyes met. 

In the quick unsteadiness of the surprise, he staggered, and 
slipped on to the road below him. But recovering his feet 
immediately, he stepped back a pace or two upon that road, 
to interpose some wider space between them, and looked at 
his pursuer, breathing short and quick. 

He heard a shout another saw the face change from its 
vindictive passion to a faint sickness and terror felt the earth 
tremble knew in a moment that the rush was come uttered 
a shriek looked round saw the red eyes, bleared and dim, 
in the daylight, close upon him was beaten down, caught up, 
and whirled away upon a jagged mill, that spun him round 
and round, and struck him limb from limb, and licked his 
stream of life up with its fiery heat, and cast his mutilated 
fragments in the air. 

When the traveller, who had been recognised, recovered 
from a swoon, he saw them bringing from a distance some 
thing covered, that lay heavy and still, upon a board, between 
four men, and saw that others drove some dogs away that 
sniffed upon the road, and soaked his blood up, with a train 
of ashes. 



CHAPTER LVI. 

SEVERAL PEOPLE DELIGHTED, AND THE GAME CHICKEN DISGUSTED. 

THE Midshipman was all alive. Mr. Toots and Susan had 
arrived at last. Susan had run up stairs like a young woman 
bereft of her senses, and Mr. Toots and the Chicken had gone 
into the parlour. 

" Oh my own pretty darling sweet Miss Floy ! " cried the 
Nipper, running into Florence's room, " to think that it should 
come to this and I should find you here my own dear dove 
with nobody to wait upon you and no home to call your own 
but never never will I go away again Miss Floy for though I 
may not gather moss I'm not a rolling stone nor is my heart 
a stone or else it wouldn't bust as it is busting now oh dear 
oh dear ! " 

Pouring out these words, without the faintest indication of 
a stop, of any sort, Miss Nipper, on her knees beside her 
mistress, hugged her close. 

" Oh love ! " cried Susan, " I know all that's past I know 
it all my tender pet and I'm a choking give me air ! " 

" Susan, dear good Susan ! " said Florence. 

" Oh bless her ! I that was her little maid when she was 
a little child ! and is she really, really truly going to be 
married ! " exclaimed Susan, in a burst of pain and pleasure, 
pride and grief, and Heaven knows how many other con 
flicting feelings. 

" Who told you so ? " said Florence. 

" Oh gracious me ! that innocentest creetur Toots," returned 



416 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Susan hysterically. "I knew he must be right my dear 
because he took on so. He's the devotedest and innocentest 
infant ! And is my darling," pursued Susan, with another 
close embrace and bunt of tears, "really really going to be 
married ! " 

The mixture of compassion, pleasure, tenderness, protection, 
and regret with which the Nipper constantly recurred to this 
subject, and at every such recurrence, raised her head to look 
in the young face and kiss it, and then laid her head again 
upon her mistress's shoulder, caressing her and sobbing, was 
as womanly and good a thing, in its way, as ever was seen 
in the world. 

" There, there ! " said the soothing voice of Florence pre 
sently. " Now you're quite yourself, dear Susan ! " 

Miss Nipper, sitting down upon the floor, at her mistress's 
feet, laughing and sobbing, holding her pocket-handkerchief 
to her eyes with one hand, and patting Diogenes with the 
other as he licked her face, confessed to being more composed, 
and laughed and cried a little more in proof of it. 

"I I I never did see such a creetur as that Toots," said 
Susan, " in all my born days never ! " 

" So kind," suggested Florence. 

" And so comic ! " Susan sobbed. " The way he's been going 
on inside with me with that disrespectable Chicken on the 
box!" 

" About what, Susan ! " inquired Florence timidly. 

"Oh about Lieutenant Walters, and Captain Gills, and 
you my dear Miss Floy, and the silent tomb," said Susan. 

" The silent tomb ! " repeated Florence. 

" He says," here Susan burst into a violent hysterical laugh, 
" that he'll go down into it now immediately and quite com 
fortable, but bless your heart my dear Miss Floy he won't, 
he's a great deal too happy in seeing other people happy for 
that, he may not be a Solomon," pursued the Nipper, with 
her usual volubility, "nor do I say he is but this I do say a 
less selfish human creature human nature never knew!" 



MR. TOOTS RICHLY REWARDED. 417 

Miss Nipper being still hysterical, laughed immoderately 
after making this energetic declaration, and then informed 
Florence that he was waiting below to see her ; which would 
be a rich repayment for the trouble he had had in his late 
expedition. 

Florence entreated Susan to beg of Mr. Toots as a favour 
that she might have the pleasure of thanking him for his 
kindness ; and Susan, in a few moments, produced that young 
gentleman, still very much dishevelled in appearance, and 
stammering exceedingly. 

" Miss Dombey," said Mr. Toots. " To be again permitted 
to to gaze at least, not to gaze, but I don't exactly 
know what I was going to say, but it's of no consequence." 

"I have to thank you so often," returned Florence, giving 
him both her hands, with all her innocent gratitude beaming 
in her face, " that I have no words left, and don't know how 
to do it." 

" Miss Dombey," said Mr. Toots, in an awful voice, " if it 
was possible that you could, consistently with your angelic 
nature, Curse me, you would if I may be allowed to say 
so floor me infinitely less, than by these undeserved expres 
sions of kindness. Their effect upon me is but," said 
Mr. Toots, abruptly, " this is a digression, and 's of no con 
sequence at all." 

As there seemed to be no means of replying to this, but 
by thanking him again, Florence thanked him again. 

" I could wish," said Mr. Toots, " to take this opportunity, 
Miss Dombey, if I might, of entering into a word of explana 
tion. I should have had the pleasure of of returning with 
Susan at an earlier period ; but, in the first place, we didn't 
know the name of the relation to whose house she had gone, 
and, in the second, as she had left that relation's and gone 
to another at a distance, I think that scarcely anything short 
of the sagacity of the Chicken, would have found her out in 
the time." 

Florence was sure of it. 

VOL. ii. 2 E 



418 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"This, however," said Mr. Toots, "is not the point. The 
company of Susan has been, I assure you, Miss Dombey, a 
consolation and satisfaction to me, in my state of mind, more 
easily conceived than described. The journey has been its 
own reward. That, however, still, is not the point. Miss 
Dombey, I have before observed that I know I am not what 
is considered a quick person. I am perfectly aware of that. 
I don't think anybody could be better acquainted with his 
own if it was not too strong an expression, I should say 
with the thickness of his own head than myself. But, Miss 
Dombey, I do, notwithstanding, perceive the state of of 
things with Lieutenant Walters. Whatever agony that state 
of things may have caused me (which is of no consequence at 
all), I am bound to say, that Lieutenant Walters is a person 
who appears to be worthy of the blessing that has fallen on 
his on his brow. May he wear it long, and appreciate it, 
as a very different, and very unworthy individual, that it is 
of no consequence to name, would have done ! That, however, 
still, is not the point. Miss Dombey, Captain Gills is a friend 
of mine; and during the interval that is now elapsing, I 
believe it would afford Captain Gills pleasure to see me occa 
sionally coming backwards and forwards here. It would afford 
me pleasure so to come. But I cannot forget that I once 
committed myself, fatally, at the corner of the Square at 
Brighton; and if my presence will be, in the least degree, 
unpleasant to you, I only ask you to name it to me now, and 
assure you that I shall perfectly understand you. I shall not 
consider it at all unkind, and shall only be too delighted and 
happy to be honoured with your confidence. 1 " 

"Mr. Toots," returned Florence, "if you, who are so old 
and true a friend of mine, were to stay away from this house 
now, you would make me very unhappy. It can never, never, 
give me any feeling but pleasure to see you." 

"Miss Dombey," said Mr. Toots, taking out his pocket- 
handkerchief, "if I shed a tear, it is a tear of joy. It is of 
no consequence, and I am very much obliged to you. I may 



IN STRICT CONFIDENCE. 419 

be allowed to remark, after what you have so kindly said, 
that it is not my intention to neglect my person any longer." 

Florence received this intimation with the prettiest expres 
sion of perplexity possible. 

" I mean," said Mr. Toots, " that I shall consider it my 
duty as a fellow-creature generally, until I am claimed by the 
silent tomb, to make the best of myself, and to to have my 
boots as brightly polished, as as circumstances will admit of. 
This is the last time, Miss Dombey, of my intruding any 
observation of a private and personal nature. I thank you 
very much indeed. If I am not, in a general way, as sensible 
as my friends could wish me to be, or as I could wish myself, 
I really am, upon my word and honour, particularly sensible 
of what is considerate and kind. I feel, 1 ' said Mr. Toots, in 
an impassioned tone, "as if I could express my feelings, at 
the present moment, in a most remarkable manner, if if I 
could only get a start." 

Appearing not to get it, after waiting a minute or two to 
see if it would come, Mr. Toots took a hasty leave, and went 
below to seek the Captain, whom he found in the shop. 

" Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, " what is now to take place 
between us, takes place under the sacred seal of confidence. 
It is the sequel, Captain Gills, of what has taken place between 
myself and Miss Dombey, up stairs." 

" Alow and aloft, eh, my lad ? " murmured the Captain. 

" Exactly so, Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, whose fervour 
of acquiescence was greatly heightened by his entire ignorance 
of the Captain's meaning. " Miss Dombey, I believe, Captain 
Gills, is to be shortly united to Lieutenant Walters ? " 

" Why, aye, my lad. We're all shipmets here, WalY and 
sweetheart will be jined together in the house of bondage, as 
soon as the askings is over," whispered Captain Cuttle, in 
his ear. 

" The askings, Captain Gills ! " repeated Mr. Toots. 

"In the church, down yonder," said the Captain, pointing 
his thumb over his shoulder. 



420 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Oh I Yes ! " returned Mr. Toots. 

"And then," said the Captain, in his hoarse whisper, and 
tapping Mr. Toots on the chest with the back of his hand, 
and falling from him with a look of infinite admiration, " what 
follers? That there pretty creetur, as delicately brought up 
as a foreign bird, goes away upon the roaring main with 
Wal'r on a woyage to China ! " 

" Lord, Captain Gills ! " said Mr. Toots. 

" Aye ! " nodded the Captain. " The ship as took him up, 
when he was wrecked in the hurricane that had drove her 
clean out of her course, was a China trader, and Wal'r made 
the woyage, and got into favour, aboard and ashore being 
as smart and good a lad as ever stepped and so, the super 
cargo dying at Canton, he got made (having acted as clerk 
afore), and now he's supercargo aboard another ship, same 
owners. And so, you see," repeated the Captain, thoughtfully, 
"the pretty creetur goes away upon the roaring main with 
Wal'r, on a woyage to China." 

Mr. Toots and Captain Cuttle heaved a sigh in concert. 

" What then ? " said the Captain. " She loves him true. 
He loves her true. Them as should have loved and tended 
of her, treated of her like the beasts as perish. When she, 
cast out of home, come here to me, and dropped upon them 
planks, her wownded heart was broke. I know it. I, Ed'ard 
Cuttle, see it. There's nowt but true, kind, steady love, as 
can ever piece it up again. If so be I didn't know that, 
and didn't know as Wal'r was her true love, brother, and 
she his, I'd have these here blue arms and legs chopped off, 
afore I'd let her go. But I do know it, and what then ? 
Why, then, I say, Heaven go with 'em both, and so it 
will ! Amen ! " 

" Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, " let me have the pleasure 
of shaking hands. You've a way of saying things, that gives 
me an agreeable warmth, all up my back. / say Amen. 
You are aware, Captain Gills, that I, too, have adored Miss 
Dombey." 



MR. TOOTS INTENDS TO CHEER UP. 421 

" Cheer up ! " said the Captain, laying his hand on Mr. 
Toots's shoulder. " Stand by, boy ! " 

"It is my intention, Captain Gills," returned the spirited 
Mr. Toots, " to cheer up. Also to stand by, as much as 
possible. When the silent tomb shall yawn, Captain Gills, I 
shall be ready for burial ; not before. But not being certain, 
just at present, of my power over myself, what I wish to say 
to you, and what I shall take it as a particular favour if you 
will mention to Lieutenant Walters, is as follows. 11 

"Is as follers," echoed the Captain. "Steady!" 

" Miss Dombey being so inexpressibly kind," continued Mr. 
Toots with watery eyes, "as to say that my presence is the 
reverse of disagreeable to her, and you and everybody here 
being no less forbearing and tolerant towards one who who 
certainly," said Mr. Toots, with momentary dejection, " would 
appear to have been born by mistake, I shall come backwards 
and forwards of an evening, during the short time we can all 
,be together. But what I ask is this. If, at any moment, I 
find that I cannot endure the contemplation of Lieutenant 
Walters's bliss, and should rush out, I hope, Captain Gills, 
that you and he will both consider it as my misfortune and 
not my fault, or the want of inward conflict. That you'll feel 
convinced I bear no malice to any living creature least of all 
to Lieutenant Walters himself and that you'll casually remark 
that I have gone out for a walk, or probably to see what 
o'clock it is by the Royal Exchange. Captain Gills, if you 
could enter into this arrangement, and could answer for 
Lieutenant Walters, it would be a relief to my feelings that 
I should think cheap at the sacrifice of a considerable portion 
of my property." 

"My lad," returned the Captain, "say no more. There 
ain't a colour you can run up, as won't be made out, and 
answered to, by Wal'r and self." 

"Captain Gills," said Mr. Toots, "my mind is greatly re 
lieved. I wish to preserve the good opinion of all here. I 
J mean well, upon my honour, however badly I may show 



422 DOMBEY AND SON. 

it. You know," said Mr. Toots, "ifs exactly as if Burgess 
and Co. wished to oblige a customer with a most extraordi 
nary pair of trousers, and could not cut out what they had 
in their minds." 

With this apposite illustration, of which he seemed a little 
proud, Mr. Toots gave Captain Cuttle his blessing and 
departed. 

The honest Captain, with his Heart's Delight in the house, 
and Susan tending her, was a beaming and a happy man. As 
the days flew by, he grew more beaming and more happy, 
.every day. After some conferences with Susan (for whose 
wisdom the Captain had a profound respect, and whose valiant 
precipitation of herself on Mrs. MacStinger he could never 
forget), he proposed to Florence that the daughter of the 
elderly lady who usually sat under the blue umbrella in 
Leadenhall Market, should, for prudential reasons and con 
siderations of privacy, be superseded in the temporary dis 
charge of the household duties, by some one Avho was not 
unknown to them, and in Avhom they could safely confide. 
Susan, being present, then named, in furtherance of a sugges 
tion she had previously offered to the Captain, Mrs. Richards. 
Florence brightened at the name. And Susan, setting off 
that very afternoon to the Toodle domicile, to sound Mrs. 
Richards, returned in triumph the same evening, accompanied 
by the identical rosy-cheeked apple-faced Polly, whose demon 
strations, when brought into Florence's presence, were hardly 
less affectionate than those of Susan Nipper herself. 

This piece of generalship accomplished; from which the 
Captain derived uncommon satisfaction, as he did, indeed, 
from everything else that was done, whatever it happened to 
be ; Florence had next to prepare Susan for their approaching 
separation. This was a much more difficult task, as Miss 
Nipper was of a resolute disposition, and had fully made up 
her mind that she had come back never to be parted from 
her old mistress any more. 

"As to wages dear Miss Floy," she said, "you wouldn't 



THE PAIN OF SEPARATION. 423 

hint and wrong me so as think of naming them, for I've put 
money by and wouldn't sell my love and duty at a time like 
this even if the Savings 1 Banks and me were total strangers 
or the Banks were broke to pieces, but youVe never been 
without me darling from the time your poor dear Ma was 
took away, and though I'm nothing to be boasted of you're 
used to me and oh my own dear mistress through so many 
years don't think of going anywhere without me, for it mustn't 
and can't be ! " 

"Dear Susan, I am going on a long, long voyage." 

" Well Miss Floy, and what of that ? the more you'll want 
me. Lengths of voyages ain't an object in my eyes, thank 
God ! " said the impetuous Susan Nipper. 

" But, Susan, I am going with Walter, and I would go with 
Walter anywhere everywhere! Walter is poor, and I am 
very poor, and I must learn, now, both to help myself, and 
help him." 

" Dear Miss Floy ! " cried Susan, bursting out afresh, and 
shaking her head violently, " it's nothing new to you to help 
yourself and others too and be the patientest and truest of 
noble hearts, but let me talk to Mr. Walter Gay and settle 
it with him, for suffer you to go away across the world alone 
I cannot, and 1 won't." 

" Alone, Susan ? " returned Florence. " Alone ? and Walter 
taking me with him ! " Ah, what a bright, amazed, enraptured 
smile was on her face ! He should have seen it. " I am sure 
you will not speak to Walter if I ask you not," she added 
tenderly; "and pray don't, dear." 

Susan sobbed " Why not, Miss Floy ? " 

" Because," said Florence, " I am going to be his wife, to 
give him up my whole heart, and to live with him and die 
with him. He might think, if you said to him what you have 
said to me, that I am afraid of what is before me, or that 
you have some cause to be afraid for me. Why, Susan, dear, 
I love him!" 

Miss Nipper was so much affected by the quiet fervour of 



424 DOMBEY AND SON. 

these words, and the simple, heartfelt, all-pervading earnest 
ness expressed in them, and making the speaker's face more 
beautiful and pure than ever, that she could only cling to 
her again, crying Was her little mistress really, really going 
to be married, and pitying, caressing, and protecting her, as 
she had done before. 

But the Nipper, though susceptible of womanly weaknesses, 
was almost as capable of putting constraint upon herself as 
of attacking the redoubtable MacStinger. From that time, 
she never returned to the subject, but was always cheerful, 
active, bustling, and hopeful. She did, indeed, inform Mr. 
Toots privately, that she was only "keeping up 1 ' for the 
time, and that when it was all over, and Miss Dombey was 
gone, she might be expected to become a spectacle distressful ; 
and Mr. Toots did also express that it was his case too, and 
that they would mingle their tears together ; but she never 
otherwise indulged her private feelings in the presence of 
Florence or within the precincts of the Midshipman. 

Limited and plain as Florence's wardrobe was what a con 
trast to that prepared for the last marriage in which she had 
taken part ! there was a good deal to do in getting it ready, 
and Susan Nipper worked away at her side, all day, with the 
concentrated zeal of fifty sempstresses. The wonderful con 
tributions Captain Cuttle would have made to this branch of 
the outfit, if he had been permitted as pink parasols, tinted 
silk stockings, blue shoes, and other articles no less necessary 
on shipboard would occupy some space in the recital. He 
was induced, however, by various fraudulent representations, 
to limit his contributions to a workbox and dressing-case, of 
each of which he purchased the very largest specimen that 
could be got for money. For ten days or a fortnight after 
wards, he generally sat, during the greater part of the day, 
gazing at these boxes ; divided between extreme admiration 
of them, and dejected misgivings that they were not gorgeous 
enough, and frequently diving out into the street to pur 
chase some wild article that he deemed necessary to their 



FLORENCE GAY. 425 

completeness. But his master-stroke was, the bearing of them 
both off, suddenly, one morning, and getting the two words 
FLORENCE GAY engraved upon a brass heart inlaid over the 
lid of each. After this, he smoked four pipes successively in 
the little parlour by himself, and was discovered chuckling, 
at the expiration of as many hours. 

Walter was busy and away all day, but came there every 
morning early to see Florence, and always passed the evening 
with her. Florence never left her high rooms but to steal 
down stairs to wait for him when it was his time to come, 
or, sheltered by his proud, encircling arm, to bear him com 
pany to the door again, and sometimes peep into the street. 
In the twilight they were always together. Oh blessed time ! 
Oh wandering heart at rest! Oh deep, exhaustless, mighty 
well of love, in which so much was sunk ! 

The cruel mark was on her bosom yet. It rose against her 
father with the breath she drew, it lay between her and her 
lover when he pressed her to his heart. But she forgot it. 
In the beating of that heart for her, and in the beating of 
her own for him, all harsher music was unheard, all stem 
unloving hearts forgotten. Fragile and delicate she was, but 
with a might of love within her that could, and did, create 
a world to fly to, and to rest in, out of his one image. 

How often did the great house, and the old days, come 
before her in the twilight time, when she was sheltered by 
the arm, so proud, so fond, and, creeping closer to him, 
shrunk within it at the recollection ! How often, from 
remembering the night when she went down to that room 
and met the never-to-be-forgotten look, did she raise her eyes 
to those that watched her with such loving earnestness, and 
weep with happiness in such a refuge ! The more she clung 
to it, the more the dear dead child was in her thoughts : but 
as if the last time she had seen her father, had been when 
he was sleeping and she kissed his face, she always left him 
so, and never, in her fancy, passed that hour. 

"Walter, dear, 1 ' said Florence, one evening, when it was 



426 DOMBEY AND SON. 

almost dark. " Do you know what I have been thinking 
to-day?" 

"Thinking how the time is Hying on, and how soon we 
shall be upon the sea, sweet Florence ? " 

"I don't mean that, Walter, though I think of that too. 
I have been thinking what a charge I am to you." 

" A precious, sacred charge, dear heart ! Why / think 
that sometimes." 

"You are laughing, Walter. I know that's much more in 
your thoughts than mine. But I mean a cost." 

"A cost, my own?" 

" In money, dear. All these preparations that Susan and 
I are so busy with I have been able to purchase very little 
for myself. You were poor before. But how much poorer I 
shall make you, Walter!" 

" And how much richer, Florence ! " 

Florence laughed, and shook her head. 

"Besides," said Walter, "long ago before I went to sea 
I had a little purse presented to me, dearest, which had 
money in it." 

"Ah!" returned Florence, laughing sorrowfully, "very 
little ! Very little, Walter ! But, you must not think," and 
here she laid her light hand on his shoulder, and looked into 
his face, "that I regret to be this burden on you. No, dear 
love, I am glad of it. I am happy in it. I wouldn't have it 
otherwise for all the world ! " 

"Nor I, indeed, dear Florence." 

" Aye ! but, Walter, you can never feel it as I do. I am 
so proud of you ! It makes my heart swell with such delight 
to know that those who speak of you must say you married 
a poor disowned girl, who had taken shelter here ; who had 
no other home, no other friends ; who had nothing nothing ! 
Oh, Walter, if I could have brought you millions, I never 
could have been so happy for your sake, as I am ! " 

" And you, tlear Florence ? are you nothing ? " he returned. 

" No, nothing, Walter. Nothing but your wife." The light 



MR. TOOTS'S LITTLE EXPEDITIONS. 427 

hand stole about his neck, and the voice came nearer nearer. 
" I am nothing any more, that is not you. I have no earthly 
hope any more, that is not you. I have nothing dear to me 
any more, that is not you." 

Oh ! well might Mr. Toots leave the little company that 
evening, and twice go out to correct his watch by the Royal 
Exchange, and once to keep an appointment with a banker 
which he suddenly remembered, and once to take a little turn 
to Aldgate Pump and back ! 

But before he went upon these expeditions, or indeed before 
he came, and before lights were brought, Walter said : 

"Florence, love, the lading of our ship is nearly finished, 
and probably on the very day of our marriage she will drop 
down the river. Shall we go away that morning, and stay 
in Kent until we go on board at Gravesend within a week?" 1 ' 

"If you please, Walter. I shall be happy anywhere. 
But " 

"Yes, my life?" 

" You know," said Florence, " that we shall have no marriage 
party, and that nobody will distinguish us by our dress from 
other people. As we leave the same day, will you will you 
take me somewhere that morning, Walter early before we 
go to church?" 

Walter seemed to understand her, as so true a lover so 
truly loved should, and confirmed his ready promise with a 
kiss with more than one perhaps, or two or three, or five or 
six; and in the grave, peaceful evening, Florence was very 
happy. 

Then into the quiet room came Susan Nipper and the 
candles: shortly afterwards, the tea, the Captain, and the 
excursive Mr. Toots, who, as above mentioned, was frequently 
on the move afterwards, and passed but a restless evening. 
This, however, was not his habit : for he generally got on 
very well, by dint of playing at cribbage with the Captain 
under the advice and guidance of Miss Nipper, and distracting 
his mind with the calculations incidental to the game ; which 



428 DOMBEY AND SON. 

he found to be a very effectual means of utterly confounding 
himself. 

The Captain's visage on these occasions presented one of 
the finest examples of combination and succession of expres 
sion ever observed. His instinctive delicacy and his chivalrous 
feeling towards Florence, taught him that it was not a time 
for any boisterous jollity, or violent display of satisfaction. 
Certain floating reminiscences of Lovely Peg, on the other 
hand, were constantly struggling for a vent, and urging the 
Captain to commit himself by some irreparable demonstration. 
Anon, his admiration of Florence and Walter well-matched, 
truly, and full of grace and interest in their youth, and love, 
and good looks, as they sat apart would take such complete 
possession of him, that he would lay down his cards, and beam 
upon them, dabbing his head all over with his pocket-hand 
kerchief; until warned, perhaps, by the sudden rushing forth 
of Mr. Toots, that he had unconsciously been very instrumental, 
indeed, in making that gentleman miserable. This reflection 
would make the Captain profoundly melancholy, until the 
return of Mr. Toots ; when he would fall to his cards again, 
with many side winks and nods, and polite waves of his hook 
at Miss Nipper, importing that he wasn't going to do so any 
more. The state that ensued on this, was, perhaps, his best ; 
for then, endeavouring to discharge all expression from his 
face, he would sit, staring round the room, with all these 
expressions conveyed into it at once, and each wrestling with 
the other. Delighted admiration of Florence and Walter 
always overthrew the rest, and remained victorious and undis 
guised, unless Mr. Toots made another rush into the air, and 
then the Captain would sit, like a remorseful culprit, until 
he came back again, occasionally calling upon himself, in a 
low reproachful voice, to " Stand by ! " or growling some 
remonstrance to "Ed'ard Cuttle, my lad," on the want of 
caution observable in his behaviour. 

One of Mr. Toots's hardest trials, however, was of his own 
seeking, On the approach of the Sunday which was to witness 



MR. TOOTS'S TRIALS CONTINUED. 429 

the last of those askings in church of which the Captain 
had spoken, Mr. Toots thus stated his feelings to Susan 
Nipper. 

"Susan," said Mr. Toots, "I am drawn towards the build 
ing. The words which cut me off from Miss Dombey for 
ever, will strike upon my ears like a knell you know, but upon 
my word and honour, I feel that I must hear them. There 
fore," said Mr. Toots, "will you accompany me to-morrow, 
to the sacred edifice?"" 

Miss Nipper expressed her readiness to do so, if that would 
be any satisfaction to Mr. Toots, but besought him to abandon 
his idea of going. 

" Susan," returned Mr. Toots, with much solemnity, " before 
my whiskers began to be observed by anybody but myself, I 
adored Miss Dombey. While yet a victim to the thraldom 
of Blimber, I adored Miss Dombey. When I could no longer 
be kept out of my property, in a legal point of view, and 
and accordingly came into it I adored Miss Dombey. The 
banns which consign her to Lieutenant Walters, and me to 
to Gloom, you know," said Mr. Toots, after hesitating for a 
strong expression, " may be dreadful, will be dreadful ; but I 
feel that I should wish to hear them spoken. I feel that I 
should wish to know that the ground was certainly cut from 
under me, and that I hadn't a hope to cherish, or a or a 
leg, in short, to to go upon." 

Susan Nipper could only commiserate Mr. Toots's unfor 
tunate condition, and agree, under these circumstances, to 
accompany him ; which she did next morning. 

The church Walter had chosen for the purpose, was a 
mouldy old church in a yard, hemmed in by a labyrinth of 
back streets and courts, with a little burying-ground round 
it, and itself buried in a kind of vault, formed by the neigh 
bouring house, and paved with echoing stones. It was a 
great dim, shabby pile, with high old oaken pews, among 
which about a score of people lost themselves every Sunday ; 
while the clergyman's voice drowsily resounded through the 



430 DOMBEY AND SON. 

emptiness, and the organ rumbled and rolled as if the church 
had got the colic, for want of a congregation to keep the 
wind and damp out. But so far was this city church from 
languishing for the company of other churches, that spires 
were clustered round it, as the masts of shipping cluster on 
the river. It would have been hard to count them from its 
steeple-top, they were so many. In almost every yard and 
blind-place near, there was a church. The confusion of bells 
when Susan and Mr. Toots betook themselves towards it 
on the Sunday morning, was deafening. There were twenty 
churches close together, clamouring for people to come in. 

The two stray sheep in question were penned by a beadle 
in a commodious pew, and, being early, sat for some time 
counting the congregation, listening to the disappointed bell 
high up in the tower, or looking at a shabby little old man 
in the porch behind the screen, who was ringing the same, 
like the Bull in Cock Robin, with his foot in a stirrup. Mr. 
Toots, after a lengthened survey of the large books on the 
reading-desk, whispered Miss Nipper that he wondered where 
the banns were kept, but that young lady merely shook her 
head and frowned ; repelling for the time all approaches of a 
temporal nature. 

Mr. Toots, however, appearing unable to keep his thoughts 
from the banns, was evidently looking out for them during 
the whole preliminary portion of the service. As the time 
for reading them approached, the poor young gentleman 
manifested great anxiety and trepidation, which was not 
diminished by the unexpected apparition of the Captain in 
the front row of the gallery. When the clerk handed up a 
list to the clergyman, Mr. Toots, being then seated, held on 
by the seat of the pew ; but when the names of Walter Gay 
and Florence Dombey were read aloud as being in the third 
and last stage of that association, he was so entirely conquered 
by his feelings as to rush from the church without his hat, 
followed by the beadle and pew-opener, and two gentlemen 
of the medical profession, who happened to be present; of 



MYSTERIOUS EVOLUTIONS. 431 

whom the first-named presently returned for that article, 
informing Miss Nipper in a whisper that she was not to make 
herself uneasy about the gentleman, as the gentleman said his 
indisposition was of no consequence. 

Miss Nipper, feeling that the eyes of that integral portion 
of Europe which lost itself weekly among the high-backed 
pews, were upon her, would have been sufficiently embarrassed 
by this incident, though it had terminated here ; the more so, 
as the Captain in the front row of the gallery, was in a state 
of unmitigated consciousness which could hardly fail to express 
to the congregation that he had some mysterious connexion 
with it. But the extreme restlessness of Mr. Toots painfully 
increased and protracted the delicacy of her situation. That 
young gentleman, incapable, in his state of mind, of remaining 
alone in the churchyard, a prey to solitary meditation, and 
also desirous, no doubt, of testifying his respect for the offices 
he had in some measure interrupted, suddenly returned not 
coming back to the pew, but stationing himself on a free seat 
in the aisle, between two elderly females who were in the habit 
of receiving their portion of a weekly dole of bread then set 
forth on a shelf in the porch. In this conjunction Mr. Toots 
remained, greatly disturbing the congregation, who felt it 
impossible to avoid looking at him, until his feelings overcame 
him again, when he departed silently and suddenly. Not 
venturing to trust himself in the church any more, and yet 
wishing to have some social participation in what was going on 
there, Mr. Toots was, after this, seen from time to time, look 
ing in, with a lorn aspect, at one or other of the windows ; 
and as there were several windows accessible to him from 
without, and as his restlessness was very great, it not only 
became difficult to conceive at which window he would appear 
next, but likewise became necessary, as it were, for the whole 
congregation to speculate upon the chances of the different 
windows, during the comparative leisure afforded them by the 
sermon. Mr. Toots's movements in the churchyard were so 
eccentric, that he seemed generally to defeat all calculation, 



432 DOMBEY AND SON. 

and to appear, like the conjurer's figure, where he was least 
expected ; and the effect of these mysterious presentations 
was much increased by its being difficult to him to see in, 
and easy to everybody else to see out : which occasioned his 
remaining, every time, longer than might have been expected, 
with his face close to the glass, until he all at once became 
aware that all eyes were upon him, and vanished. 

These proceedings on the part of Mr. Toots, and the strong 
individual consciousness of them that was exhibited by the 
Captain, rendered Miss Nipper's position so responsible a one, 
that she was mightily relieved by the conclusion of the service ; 
and was hardly so affable to Mr. Toots as usual, when he 
informed her and the Captain, on the way back, that now he 
was sure he had no hope, you know, he felt more comfortable 
at least not exactly more comfortable, but more comfortably 
and completely miserable. 

Swiftly now, indeed, the time flew by until it was the 
evening before the day appointed for the marriage. They 
were all assembled in the upper room at the Midshipman's, 
and had no fear of interruption ; for there were no lodgers 
in the house now, and the Midshipman had it all to himself. 
They were grave and quiet in the prospect of to-morrow, but 
moderately cheerful too. Florence, with Walter close beside 
her, was finishing a little piece of work intended as a parting 
gift to the Captain. The Captain was playing cribbage with 
Mr. Toots. Mr. Toots was taking counsel as to his hand, of 
Susan Nipper. Miss Nipper was giving it, with all due secrecy 
and circumspection. Diogenes was listening, and occasionally 
breaking out into a gruff half-smothered fragment of a bark, 
of which he afterwards seemed half-ashamed, as if he doubted 
having any reason for it. 

" Steady, steady ! " said the Captain to Diogenes, " what's 
amiss with you ? You don't seem easy in your mind to-night, 
my boy!" 

Diogenes wagged his tail, but pricked up his ears imme 
diately afterwards, and gave utterance to another fragment of 



SOL GILLS AHOY! 433 

a bark; for which he apologised to the Captain, by again 
wagging his tail. 

"Ifs my opinion, Di," said the Captain, looking thought 
fully at his cards, and stroking his chin with his hook, "as 
you have your doubts of Mrs. Richards; but if you're the 
animal I take you to be, you'll think better o" 1 that; for her 
looks is her commission. Now, Brother : " to Mr. Toots : " if 
so be as you're ready, heave ahead." 

The Captain spoke with all composure and attention to the 
game, but suddenly his cards dropped out of his hand, his 
mouth and eyes opened wide, his legs drew themselves up and 
stuck out in front of his chair, and he sat staring at the door 
with blank amazement. Looking round upon the company, 
and seeing that none of them observed him or the cause of 
his astonishment, the Captain recovered himself with a great 
gasp, struck the table a tremendous blow, cried in a stentorian 
roar, " Sol Gills ahoy ! " and tumbled into the arms of a 
weather-beaten pea-coat that had come with Polly into the 
room. 

In another moment, Walter was in the arms of the weather- 
beaten pea-coat. In another moment, Florence was in the 
arms of the weather-beaten pea-coat. In another moment, 
Captain Cuttle had embraced Mrs. Richards and Miss Nipper, 
and was violently shaking hands with Mr. Toots, exclaiming, 
as he waved his hook above his head, "Hooroar, my lad, 
hooroar ! " To which Mr. Toots, wholly at a loss to account 
for these proceedings, replied with great politeness, " Certainly, 
Captain Gills, whatever you think proper ! " 

The weather-beaten pea-coat, and a no less weather-beaten 
cap and comforter belonging to it, turned from the Captain 
and from Florence back to Walter, and sounds came from the 
weather-beaten pea-coat, cap, and comforter, as of an old man 
sobbing underneath them ; while the shaggy sleeves clasped 
Walter tight. During this pause, there was an universal 
silence, and the Captain polished his nose with great diligence. 
But when the pea-coat, cap, and comforter lifted themselves 

VOL. II. 2 F 



434 DOMBEY AND SON. 

up again, Florence gently moved towards them ; and she and 
Walter taking them off, disclosed the old Instrument-maker, 
a little thinner and more careworn than of old, in his old 
Welsh wig and his old coffee-coloured coat and basket buttons, 
with his old infallible chronometer ticking away in his pocket. 

"Chock full o 1 science,"" said the radiant Captain, "as ever 
he was ! Sol Gills, Sol Gills, what have you been up to, for 
this many a long day, my ould boy ?"" 

" I'm half blind, Ned, 11 said the old man, " and almost deaf 
and dumb with joy." 

" His wery Avoice, 11 said the Captain, looking round with an 
exultation to which even his face could hardly render justice 
" his wery woice as chock full o 1 science as ever it was ! 
Sol Gills, lay to, my lad, upon your own wines and fig-trees, 
like a taut ould patriark as you are, and overhaul them there 
adwentures o 1 yourn, in your own formilior woice. Tis the 
woice, 11 said the Captain, impressively, and announcing a 
quotation with his hook, " of the sluggard, I heerd him com 
plain, you have woke me too soon, I must slumber again. 
Scatter his ene-mies, and make 'em fall ! " 

The Captain sat down with the air of a man who had 
happily expressed the feeling of everybody present, and im 
mediately rose again to present Mr. Toots, who was much 
disconcerted by the arrival of anybody, appearing to prefer a 
claim to the name of Gills. 

"Although, 11 stammered Mr. Toots, u I had not the pleasure 
of your acquaintance, Sir, before you were you were ri 

"Lost to sight, to memory dear, 11 suggested the Captain, 
in a low voice. 

"Exactly so, Captain Gills!" assented Mr, Toots. "Al 
though I had not the pleasure of your acquaintance, Mr. 
Mr. Sols, 11 said Toots, hitting on that name in the inspira 
tion of a bright idea, "before that happened, I have the 
greatest pleasure, I assure you, in you know, in knowing 
you. I hope, 11 said Mr. Toots, "that you're as well as can 
be expected. 11 



CAPTAIN CUTTLE IS ADRIFT. 435 

With these courteous words, Mr. Toots sat down blushing 
and chuckling. 

The old Instrument-maker, seated in a corner between 
Walter and Florence, and nodding at Polly, who was looking 
on, all smiles and delight, answered the Captain thus : 

" Ned Cuttle, my dear boy, although I have heard some 
thing of the changes of events here, from my pleasant friend 
there what a pleasant face she has to be sure, to welcome a 
wanderer home ! " said the old man, breaking off, and rubbing 
his hands in his old dreamy way. 

" Hear him ! " cried the Captain gravely. " 'Tis woman as 
seduces all mankind. For which," aside to Mr. Toots, " you'll 
overhaul your Adam and Eve, brother." 

"I shall make a point of doing so, Captain Gills,"" said 
Mr. Toots. 

" Although I have heard something of the changes of events, 
from her,"" 1 resumed the Instrument-maker, taking his old 
spectacles from his pocket, and putting them on his forehead 
in his old manner, "they are so great and unexpected, and 
I am so overpowered by the sight of my dear boy, and by 
the," glancing at the downcast eyes of Florence, and not 
attempting to finish the sentence " that I I can't say much 
to-night. But my dear Ned Cuttle, why didn't you write ? " 

The astonishment depicted in the Captain's features posi 
tively frightened Mr. Toots, whose eyes were quite fixed by 
it, so that he could not withdraw them from his face. 

" Write ! " echoed the Captain. " Write, Sol Gills ?" 

" Aye," said the old man, " either to Barbados, or Jamaica, 
or Demerara. That was what I asked." 

"What you asked, Sol Gills?" repeated the Captain. 

" Aye," said the old man. " Don't you know, Ned ? Sure 
you have not forgotten ? Every time I wrote to you." 

The Captain took off his glazed hat, hung it on his hook, 
and smoothing his hair from behind with his hand, sat gazing 
at the group around him : a perfect image of wondering 
resignation. 



436 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" You don't appear to understand me, Ned ! " observed 
old Sol. 

" Sol Gills," returned the Captain, after staring at him and 
the rest for a long time, without speaking, "I'm gone about 
and adrift. Pay out a word or two respecting them adwenturs, 
will you ! Can't I bring up, nohows ? Nohows ? " said the 
Captain, ruminating, and staring all round. 

" You know, Ned," said Sol Gills, " why I left here. Did 
you open my packet, Ned ? " 

" Why, aye, aye," said the Captain. " To be sure, I opened 
the packet." 

"And read it?" said the old man. 

"And read it," answered the Captain, eyeing him atten 
tively, and proceeding to quote it from memory. " ' My dear 
Ned Cuttle, when I left home for the West Indies in forlorn 
search of intelligence of my dear ' There he sits ! There's 
Wal'r!" said the Captain, as if he were relieved by getting 
hold of anything that was real and indisputable. 

"Well, Ned. Now attend a moment!" said the old man. 
"When I wrote first that was from Barbados I said that 
though you would receive that letter long before the year was 
out, I should be glad if you would open the packet, as it 
explained the reason of my going away. Very good, Ned. 
When I wrote the second, third, and perhaps the fourth 
times that was from Jamaica I said I was in just the same 
state, couldn't rest, and couldn't come away from that part 
of the world, without knowing that my boy was lost or saved. 
When I wrote next that, I think, was from Demerara, 
wasn't it?" 

" That he thinks was from Demerara, warn't it ! " said the 
Captain, looking hopelessly round. 

" I said," proceeded old Sol, "that still there was no 
certain information got yet. That I found many captains 
and others, in that part of the world, who had known me for 
years, and who assisted me with a passage here and there, 
and for whom I was able, now and then, to do a little in 



MR. SOLOMON GILLS IN EXPLANATION. 437 

return, in my own craft. That every one was sorry for me, 
and seemed to take a sort of interest in my wanderings ; and 
that I began to think it would be my fate to cruise about 
in search of tidings of my boy until I died."" 

" Began to think as how he was a scientific flying 
Dutchman ! " said the Captain, as before, and with great 
seriousness. 

"But when the news come one day, Ned, that was to 
Barbados, after I got back there, that a China trader 
home'ard bound had been spoke, that had my boy aboard, 
then, Ned, I took passage in the next ship and came home ; 
arrived at home to-night to find it true, thank God ! " said 
the old man, devoutly. 

The Captain, after bowing his head with great reverence, 
stared all round the circle, beginning with Mr. Toots, and 
ending with the Instrument-maker ; then gravely said : 

" Sol Gills ! The observation as I'm a-going to make is 
calculated to blow every stitch of sail as you can carry, 
clean out of the bolt-ropes, and bring you on your beam 
ends with a lurch. Not one of them letters was ever delivered 
to Ed'ard Cuttle. Not one o 1 them letters," repeated the 
Captain, to make his declaration the more solemn and im 
pressive, "was ever delivered unto Ed'ard Cuttle, Mariner, 
of England, as lives at home at ease, and doth improve each 
shining hour ! " 

" And posted by my own hand ! And directed by my own 
hand, Number nine Brig Place ! " exclaimed old Sol. 

The colour all went out of the Captain's face, and all came 
back again in a glow. 

" What do you mean, Sol Gills, my friend, by Number nine 
Brig Place ? " inquired the Captain. 

" Mean ? Your lodgings, Ned, 11 returned the old man. 
" Mrs. WhatVher-name ! I shall forget my own name next, 
but I am behind the present time I always was, you recollect 
and very much confused. Mrs. " 

"Sol Gills! 11 said the Captain, as if he were putting the 



438 DOMBEY AND SON. 

most improbable case in the world, " it ain't the name of 
MacStinger as you're a trying to remember?"" 

" Of course it is ! " exclaimed the Instrument-maker. To 
be sure Ned. Mrs. MacStinger ! " 

Captain Cuttle, whose eyes were now as wide open as they 
could be, and the knobs upon whose face were perfectly lumi 
nous, gave a long shrill whistle of a most melancholy sound, 
and stood gazing at everybody in a state of speechlessness. 

" Overhaul that there again, Sol Gills, will you be so kind ? " 
he said at last. 

"All these letters, 11 returned Uncle Sol, beating time with 
the forefinger of his right hand upon the palm of his left, 
with a steadiness and distinctness that might have done 
honour, even to the infallible chronometer in his pocket, "I 
posted with my own hand, and directed with my own hand, 
to Captain Cuttle, at Mrs. MacStinger's, Number nine Brig 
Place." 

The Captain took his glazed hat off his hook, looked into 
it, put it on, and sat down. 

" Why, friends all,"" said the Captain, staring round in the 
last state of discomfiture, " I cut and run from there ! " 

" And no one knew where you were gone, Captain Cuttle ? " 
cried Walter hastily. 

"Bless your heart, Wal'r," said the Captain, shaking his 
head, " she'd never have allowed o' my coming to take charge 
o' this here property. Nothing could be done but cut and 
run. Lord love you, Wal'r ! " said the Captain, " you've only 
seen her in a calm ! But see her when her angry passions 
rise and make a note on ! " 

" /'d give it her ! " remarked the Nipper, softly. 

" Would you, do you think, my dear ? " returned the 
Captain with feeble admiration. " Well, my dear, it does 
you credit. But there ain't no wild animal I would sooner 
face myself. I only got my chest away by means of a friend 
as nobody's a match for. It was no good sending any letter 
there. SJie wouldn't take in any letter, bless you," said the 



MAGNANIMITY OF MR. TOOTS. 439 

Captain, " under them circumstances ! Why, you could hardly 
make it worth a man's while to be the postman ! " 

" Then it's pretty clear, Captain Cuttle, that all of us, and 
you and Uncle Sol especially," said Walter, " may thank Mrs,, 
MacStinger for no small anxiety." 

The general obligation in this wise to the determined relict 
of the late Mr. MacStinger, was so apparent, that the Captain 
did not contest the point ; but being in some measure ashamed 
of his position, though nobody dwelt upon the subject, and 
Walter especially avoided it, remembering the last conversa 
tion he and the Captain had held together respecting it, he 
remained under a cloud for nearly five minutes an extra 
ordinary period for him when that sun, his face, broke 
out once more, shining on all beholders with extraordinary 
brilliancy ; and he fell into a fit of shaking hands with every 
body over and over again. 

At an early hour, but not before Uncle Sol and Walter 
had questioned each other at some length about their voyages 
and dangers, they all, except Walter, vacated Florence's room, 
and went down to the parlour. Here they were soon after 
wards joined by Walter, who told them Florence was a little 
sorrowful and heavy-hearted, and had gone to bed. Though 
they could not have disturbed her with their voices down 
there, they all spoke in a whisper after this : and each, in his 
different way, felt very lovingly and gently towards Walter's 
fair young bride : and a long explanation there was of every 
thing relating to her, for the satisfaction of Uncle Sol ; and 
very sensible Mr. Toots was of the delicacy with which Walter 
made his name and services important, and his presence 
necessary to their little council. 

" Mr. Toots," said Walter, on parting with him at the house 
door, "we shall see each other to-morrow morning?" 

"Lieutenant Walters," returned Mr. Toots, grasping his 
hand fervently, " I shall certainly be present." 

"This is the last night we shall meet for a long time the 
last night we may ever meet," said Walter. " Such a noble 



440 DOMBEY AND SON. 

heart as yours, must feel, I think, when another heart is bound 
to it. I hope you know that I am very grateful to you ? " 

" Walters," replied Mr. Toots, quite touched, " I should be 
glad to feel that you had reason to be so." 

" Florence," said Walter, " on this last night of her bearing 
her own name, has made me promise it was only just now, 
when you left us together that I would tell you with her 
dear love " 

Mr. Toots laid his hand upon the doorpost, and his eyes 
upon his hand. 

" with her dear love," said Walter, "that she can never 
have a friend whom she will value above you. That the re 
collection of your true consideration for her always, can never 
be forgotten by her. That she remembers you in her prayers 
to-night, and hopes that you will think of her when she is 
far away. Shall I say anything for you ? " 
" Say, Walters," replied Mr. Toots indistinctly, " that I shall 
think of her every day, but never without feeling happy to 
know that she is married to the man she loves, and who loves 
her. Say, if you please, that I am sure her husband deserves 
her even her ! and that I am glad of her choice." 

Mr. Toots got more distinct as he came to these last words, 
and raising his eyes from the doorpost, said them stoutly. He 
then shook Walter's hand again with a fervour that Walter 
was not slow to return, and started homeward. 

Mr. Toots was accompanied by the Chicken, whom he had 
of late brought with him every evening, and left in the shop, 
with an idea that unforeseen circumstances might arise from 
without, in which the prowess of that distinguished character 
would be of service to the Midshipman. The Chicken did not 
appear to be in a particularly good humour on this occasion. 
Either the gas-lamps were treacherous, or he cocked his eye 
in a hideous manner, and likewise distorted his nose, when 
Mr. Toots, crossing the road, looked back over his shoulder 
at the room where Florence slept. On the road home, he was 
more demonstrative of aggressive intentions against the other 



SENTIMENTS OF THE CHICKEN. 441 

foot-passengers, than comported with a professor of the peaceful 
art of self-defence. Arrived at home, instead of leaving Mr. 
Toots in his apartments when he had escorted him thither, he 
remained before him weighing his white hat in both hands 
by the brim, and twitching his head and nose (both of which 
had been many times broken, and but indifferently repaired), 
with an air of decided disrespect. 

His patron being much engaged with his own thoughts, did 
not observe this for some time, nor indeed until the Chicken, 
determined not to be overlooked, had made divers clicking 
sounds with his tongue and teeth, to attract attention. 

"Now, Master," said the Chicken, doggedly, when he, at 
length, caught Mr. Toots's eye, " I want to know whether 
this here gammon is to finish it, or whether you're a going 
in to win?" 

"Chicken," returned Mr. Toots, "explain yourself." 

" Why then, here's all about it, Master," said the Chicken. 
" I ain't a cove to chuck a word away. Here's wot it is. Are 
any on 'em to be doubled up ? " 

When the Chicken put this question he dropped his hat, 
made a dodge and a feint with his left hand, hit a supposed 
enemy a violent blow with his right, shook his head smartly, 
and recovered himself. 

" Come, Master," said the Chicken. " Is it to be gammon 
or pluck? Which?" 

" Chicken," returned Mr. Toots, " your expressions are coarse, 
and your meaning is obscure." 

"Why, then, I tell you what, Master," said the Chicken. 
"This is where it is. It's mean." 

" What is mean, Chicken ? " asked Mr. Toots. 

"It is," said the Chicken, with a frightful corrugation of 
his broken nose. " There ! Now, Master ! Wot ! Wen you 
could go and blow on this here match to the stiff 'un ; " by 
which depreciatory appellation it has been since supposed that 
the Game One intended to signify Mr. Dombey ; " and when 
you could knock the winner and all the kit of 'em dead out 



442 DOMBEY AND SON. 

o' wind and time, are you going to give in ? To give in ? " 
said the Chicken, with contemptuous emphasis. "Wy, it's 
mean ! " 

"Chicken,"" said Mr. Toots, severely, "you're a perfect 
Vulture ! Your sentiments are atrocious." 

" My sentiments is Game and Fancy, Master, 11 returned the 
Chicken. "That's wot my sentiments is. I can't abear a 
meanness. I'm afore the public, I'm to be heerd on at the 
bar of the Little Helephant, and no Gov'ner o' mine mustn't 
go and do what's mean. Wy, it's mean," said the Chicken, 
with increased expression. "That's where it is. It's mean." 

" Chicken ! " said Mr. Toots, " you disgust me." 

"Master," returned the Chicken, putting on his hat, 
" there's a pair on us, then. Come ! Here's a offer ! You've 
spoke to me more than once't or twice't about the public 
line. Never mind ! Give me a fi'typunnote to-morrow, and 
let me go." 

" Chicken," returned Mr. Toots, " after the odious sentiments 
you have expressed, I shall be glad to part on such terms." 

"Done then," said the Chicken. "It's a bargain. This 
here conduct of yourn won't suit my book, Master. Wy, it's 
mean," said the Chicken ; who seemed equally unable to get 
beyond that point, and to stop short of it. "That's where 
it is ; it's mean ! " 

So Mr. Toots and the Chicken agreed to part on this in 
compatibility of moral perception ; and Mr. Toots lying down 
to sleep, dreamed happily of Florence, who had thought of 
him as her friend upon the last night of her maiden life, and 
who had sent him her dear love. 



CHAPTER LVII. 

ANOTHER WEDDING. 

MR. SOWNDS the beadle, and Mrs. Miff the pew-opener, are 
early at their posts in the fine church where Mr. Dombey 
was married. A yellow-faced old gentleman from India, is 
going to take unto himself a young wife this morning, and 
six carriages full of company are expected, and Mrs. Miff has 
been informed that the yellow-faced old gentleman could pave 
the road to church with diamonds and hardly miss them. 
The nuptial benediction is to be a superior one, proceeding 
from a very reverend, a dean, and the lady is to be given 
away, as an extraordinary present, by somebody who comes 
express from the Horse Guards. 

Mrs. Miff is more intolerant of common people this morn 
ing, than she generally is ; and she has always strong opinions 
on that subject, for it is associated with free sittings. Mrs. 
Miff is not a student of political economy (she thinks the 
science is connected with dissenters ; " Baptists or Wesleyans, 
or some o 1 them, 11 she says), but she can never understand 
what business your common folks have to be married. " Drat 
'em, 11 says Mrs. Miff, "you read the same things over ^m, 
and instead of sovereigns get sixpences ! " 

Mr. Sownds the beadle is more liberal than Mrs. Miff but 
then he is not a pew-opener. " It must be done, Ma'am," he 
says. "We must marry 'em. We must have our national 
schools to walk at the head of, and we must have our standing 



444 DOMBEY AND SON. 

armies. We must many ""em, Ma'am," says Mr. Sownds, "and 
keep the country going." 

Mr. Sownds is sitting on the steps and Mrs. Miff is dusting 
in the church, when a young couple, plainly dressed, come in. 
.The mortified bonnet of Mrs. Miff is sharply turned towards 
them, for she espies in this early visit indications of a run 
away match. But they don't want to be married " Only," 
says the gentleman, " to walk round the church." And as he 
slips a genteel compliment into the palm of Mrs. Miff, her 
vinegary face relaxes, and her mortified bonnet and her spare 
dry figure dip and crackle. 

Mrs. Miff resumes her dusting and plumps up her cushions 
for the yellow-faced old gentleman is reported to have 
tender knees but keeps her glazed, pew-opening eye on the 
young couple who are walking round the church. "Ahem," 
coughs Mrs. Miff, whose cough is drier than the hay in any 
hassock in her charge, " you'll come to us one of these morn 
ings, my dears, unless I'm much mistaken ! " 

They are looking at a tablet on the wall, erected to the 
memory of some one dead. They are a long way off from Mrs. 
Miff', but Mrs. Miff can see with half an eye how she is leaning 
on his arm, and how his head is bent down over her. *' Well, 
well," says Mrs. Miff, "you might do worse. For you're a 
tidy pair!" 

There is nothing personal in Mrs. Miff's remark. She 
merely speaks of stock-in-trade. She is hardly more curious 
in couples than in coffins. She is such a spare, straight, dry 
old lady such a pew of a woman that you should find as 
many individual sympathies in a chip. Mr. Sownds, now, 
who is fleshy, and has scarlet in his coat, is of a different 
temperament. ' He says, as they stand upon the steps watch 
ing the young couple away, that she has a pretty figure, 
hasn't she, and as well as he could see (for she held her head 
down coming out), an uncommon pretty face. "Altogether, 
Mrs. Miff," says Mr. Sownds with a relish, " she is what you 
may call a rosebud." 



THE BRIDAL MORNING. 445 

Mrs. Miff assents with a spare nod of her mortified bonnet ; 
but approves of this so little, that she inwardly resolves she 
wouldn't be the wife of Mr. Sownds for any money he could 
give her, Beadle as he is. 

And what are the young couple saying as they leave the 
church, and go out at the gate ? 

" Dear Walter, thank you ! I can go away, now, happy." 

"And when we come back, Florence, we will come and see 
his grave again." 

Florence lifts her eyes, so bright with tears, to his kind 
face; and clasps her disengaged hand on that other modest 
little hand which clasps his arm. 

" It is very early, Walter, and the streets are almost empty 
yet. Let us walk/ 1 

" But you will be so tired, my love. 1 ' 

" Oh no ! I was very tired the first time that we ever 
walked together, but I shall not be so to-day." 

And thus not much changed she, as innocent and 
earnest-hearted he, as frank, as hopeful, and more proud of 
her Florence and Walter, on their bridal morning, walk 
through the streets together. 

Not even in that childish walk of long ago, were they so 
far removed from all the world about them as to-day. The 
childish feet of long ago, did not tread such enchanted 
ground as theirs do now. The confidence and love of children 
may be given many times, and will spring up in many places ; 
but the woman's heart of Florence, with its undivided treasure, 
can be yielded only once, and under slight or change, can 
only droop and die. 

They take the streets that are the quietest, and do not go 
near that in which her old home stands. It is a fair, warm 
summer morning, and the sun shines on them, as they walk 
towards the darkening mist that overspreads the City. Riches 
are uncovering in shops ; jewels, gold, and silver flash in the 
goldsmith's sunny windows; and great houses cast a stately 
shade upon them as they pass. But through the light, and 



446 DOMBEY AND SON. 

through the shade, they go on lovingly together, lost to 
everything around ; thinking of no other riches, and no 
prouder home, than they have now in one another. 

Gradually they come into the darker, narrower streets, 
where the sun, now yellow, and now red, is seen through the 
mist, only at street, corners, and in small open spaces where 
there is a tree, or one of the innumerable churches, or a 
paved way and a flight of steps, or a curious little patch of 
garden, or a burying-ground, where the few tombs and tomb 
stones are almost black. Lovingly and trustfully, through 
all the narrow yards and alleys and the shady streets, Florence 
goes, clinging to his arm, to be his wife. 

Her heart beats quicker now, for Walter tells her that 
their church is very near. They pass a few great stacks of 
warehouses, with waggons at the doors, and busy carmen 
stopping up the way but Florence does not see or hear them 
and then the air is quiet, and the day is darkened, and she 
is trembling in a church which has a strange smell like a 
cellar. 

The shabby little old man, ringer of the disappointed bell, 
is standing in the porch, and has put his hat in the font 
for he is quite at home there, being sexton. He ushers them 
into an old brown, panelled, dusty vestry, like a corner- 
cupboard with the shelves taken out; where the wormy 
registers diffuse a smell like faded snuff, which has set the 
tearful Nipper sneezing. 

Youthful, and how beautiful, the young bride looks, in this 
old dusty place, with no kindred object near her but her 
husband. There is a dusty old clerk, who keeps a sort of 
evaporated news shop underneath an archway opposite, behind 
a perfect fortification of posts. There is a dusty old pew- 
opener who only keeps herself, and finds that quite enough 
to do. There is a dusty old beadle (these are Mr. Toots's 
beadle and pew-opener of last Sunday), who has something 
to do with a Worshipful Company who have got a Hall in 
the next yard, with a stained-glass window in it that no 



FLORENCE AND WALTER ARE MARRIED. 447 

mortal ever saw. There are dusty wooden ledges and cornices 
poked in and out over the altar, and over the screen and 
round the gallery, and over the inscription about what the 
Master and Wardens of the Worshipful Company did in one 
thousand six hundred and ninety-four. There are dusty old 
sounding-boards over the pulpit and reading-desk, looking 
like lids to be let down on the officiating ministers, in case 
of their giving offence. There is every possible provision for 
the accommodation of dust, except in the churchyard, where 
the facilities in that inspect are very limited. 

The Captain, Uncle Sol, and Mr. Toots are come; the 
clergyman is putting on his surplice in the vestry, while the 
clerk walks round him, blowing the dust off' it ; and the bride 
and bridegroom stand before the altar. There is no brides 
maid, unless Susan Nipper is one; and no better father 
than Captain Cuttle. A man with a wooden leg, chewing a 
faint apple and carrying a blue bag in his hand, looks in to 
see what is going on ; but finding it nothing entertaining, 
stumps off again, and pegs his way among the echoes out 
of doors. 

No gracious ray of light is seen to fall on Florence, kneeling 
at the altar with her timid head bowed down. The morning 
luminary is built out, and don't shine there. There is a 
meagre tree outside, where the sparrows are chirping a little ; 
and there is a blackbird in an eyelet-hole of sun in a dyer's 
garret, over against the window, who whistles loudly whilst 
the service is performing; and there is the man with the 
wooden leg stumping away. The amens of the dusty clerk 
appear, like Macbeth's, to stick in his throat a little; but 
Captain Cuttle helps him out, and does it with so much good 
will that he interpolates three entirely new responses of that 
word, never introduced into the service before. 

They are married, and have signed their names in one of 
the old sneezy registers, and the clergyman's surplice is restored 
to the dust, and the clergyman is gone home. In a dark 
corner of the dark church, Florence has turned to Susan Nipper, 



448 DOMBEY AND SON. 

and is weeping in her arms. Mr. Toots's eyes are red. The 
Captain lubricates his nose. Uncle Sol has pulled down his 
spectacles from his forehead, and walked out to the door. 

" God bless you, Susan ; dearest Susan ! If you ever can 
bear witness to the love I have for Walter, and the reason 
that I have to love him, do it for his sake. Good-bye ! 
Good-bye ! " 

They have thought it better not to go back to the Mid 
shipman, but to part so ; a coach is waiting for them, near 
at hand. 

Miss Nipper cannot speak; she only sobs and chokes, and 
hugs her mistress. Mr. Toots advances, urges her to cheer 
up, and takes charge of her. Florence gives him her hand 
gives him, in the fulness of her heart, her lips kisses Uncle 
Sol, and Captain Cuttle, and is borne away by her young 
husband. 

But Susan cannot bear that Florence should go away with a 
mournful recollection of her. She had meant to be so different, 
that she reproaches herself bitterly. Intent on making one 
last effort to redeem her character, she breaks from Mr. Toots 
and runs away to find the coach, and show a parting smile. 
The Captain, divining her object, sets off after her; for he 
feels it his duty also to dismiss them with a cheer, if possible. 
Uncle Sol and Mr. Toots are left behind together, outside the 
church, to wait for them. 

The coach is gone, but the street is steep, and narrow, 
and blocked up, and Susan can see it at a stand-still in the 
distance, she is sure. Captain Cuttle follows her as she flies 
down the hill, and waves his glazed hat as a general signal, 
which may attract the right coach and which may not. 

Susan outstrips the Captain, and comes up with it. She 
looks in at the window, sees Walter, with the gentle face 
beside him, and claps her hands and screams : 

" Miss Floy, my darling ! look at me ! We are all so 
happy now, dear! One more good-bye, my precious, one 
more ! " 



ONE MORE GOOD-BYE. 449 

How Susan does it, she don't know, but she reaches to the 
window, kisses her, and has her arms about her neck, in a 
moment. 

" We are all so so happy now, my dear Miss Floy ! " says 
Susan, with a suspicious catching in her breath. " You, you 
won't be angry with me now. Now will you ? " 

" Angry, Susan ! " 

" No, no ; I am sure you won't. I say you won't, my pet, 
my dearest ! " exclaims Susan ; " and here's the Captain, too 
your friend the Captain, you know to say good-bye once 
more ! " 

" Hooroar, my Heart's Delight ! " vociferates the Captain, 
with a countenance of strong emotion. " Hooroar, Wal'r my 
lad. Hooroar ! Hooroar ! " 

What with the young husband at one window, and the 
young wife at the other ; the Captain hanging on at this door, 
and Susan Nipper holding fast by that; the coach obliged 
to go on whether it will or no, and all the other carts and 
coaches turbulent because it hesitates ; there never was so much 
confusion on four wheels. But Susan Nipper gallantly main 
tains her point. She keeps a smiling face upon her mistress, 
smiling through her tears, until the last. Even when she is 
left behind, the Captain continues to appear and disappear at 
the door, crying " Hooroar, my lad ! Hooroar, my Heart's 
Delight ! " with his shirt-collar in a violent state of agitation, 
until it is hopeless to attempt to keep up with the coach any 
longer. Finally, when the coach is gone, Susan Nipper, being 
rejoined by the Captain, falls into a state of insensibility, and 
is taken into a baker's shop to recover. 

Uncle Sol and Mr. Toots wait patiently in the churchyard, 
sitting on the coping-stone of the railings, until Captain 
Cuttle and Susan come back. Neither being at all desirous 
to speak, or to be spoken to, they are excellent company, and 
quite satisfied. When they all arrive again at the little 
Midshipman, and sit down to breakfast, nobody can touch a 
morsel. Captain Cuttle makes a feint of being voracious about 

VOL. n. ~ 



450 DOMBEY AND SON. 

toast, but gives it up as a swindle. Mr. Toots says, after 
breakfast, he will come back in the evening ; and goes wander 
ing about the town all day, with a vague sensation upon him 
as if he hadn't been to bed for a fortnight. 

There is a strange charm in the house, and in the room, in 
which they have been used to be together, and out of which 
so much is gone. It aggravates, and yet it soothes, the sorrow 
of the separation. Mr. Toots tells Susan Nipper when he 
comes at night, that he hasn't been so wretched all day long, 
and yet he likes it. He confides in Susan Nipper, being alone 
with her, and tells her what his feelings were when she gave 
him that candid opinion as to the probability of Miss Dombey's 
ever loving him. In the vein of confidence engendered by 
these common recollections, and their tears, Mr. Toots proposes 
that they shall go out together, and buy something for supper. 
Miss Nipper assenting, they buy a good many little things ; 
and, with the aid of Mrs. Richards, set the supper out quite 
showily before the Captain and old Sol came home. 

The Captain and old Sol have been on board the ship, and 
have established Di there, and have seen the chests put aboard. 
They have much to tell about the popularity of Walter, and 
the comforts he will have about him, and the quiet way in 
which it seems he has been working early and late, to make 
his cabin what the Captain calls "a picter," to surprise his 
little wife. " A admiral's cabin, mind you," says the Captain, 
"ain't more trim." 

But one of the Captain's chief delights is, that he knows 
the big watch, and the sugar-tongs, and tea-spoons, are on 
board : and again and again he murmurs to himself, " Ed'ard 
Cuttle, my lad, you never shaped a better course in your life 
than when you made that there little property over jintly. 
Yoti see how the land bore, Ed'ard," says the Captain, "and 
it does you credit, my lad." 

The old Instrument-maker is more distraught and misty 
than he used to be, and takes the marriage and the parting 
very much to heart. But he is greatly comforted by having 



PARTING LETTER TO MR. DOMBEY. 451 

his old ally, Ned Cuttle, at his side; and he sits down to 
supper with a grateful and contented face. 

" My boy has been preserved and thrives," says old Sol Gills, 
rubbing his hands. " What right have I to be otherwise than 
thankful and happy ! " 

The Captain, who has not yet taken his seat at the table, 
but who has been fidgeting about for some time, and now 
stands hesitating in his place, looks doubtfully at Mr. Gills, 
and says : 

" Sol ! There's the last bottle of the old Madeira down 
below. Would you wish to have it up to-night, my boy, and 
drink to Wal'r and his wife ? " 

The Instrument-maker, looking wistfully at the Captain, 
puts his hand into the breast-pocket of his coffee-coloured 
coat, brings forth his pocket-book, and takes a letter out. 

"To Mr. Dombey," says the old man. "From Walter. To 
be sent in three weeks' time. Ill read it." 

" ' Sir. I am married to your daughter. She is gone with 
me upon a distant voyage. To be devoted to her is to have 
no claim on her or you, but God knows that I am. 

" ' Why, loving her beyond all earthly things, I have yet, 
without remorse, united her to the uncertainties and dangers 
of my life, I will not say to you. You know why, and you 
are her father. 

" ' Do not reproach her. She has never reproached you. 

" ' I do not think or hope that you will ever forgive me. 
There is nothing I expect less. But if an hour should come 
when it will comfort you to believe that Florence has some 
one ever near her, the great charge of whose life is to cancel 
her remembrance of past sorrow, I solemnly assure you, you 
may, in that hour, rest in that belief.'"" 

Solomon puts back the letter carefully in his pocket-book, 
and puts back his pocket-book in his coat. 

" We won't drink the last bottle of the old Madeira yet, 
Ned," says the old man thoughtfully. "Not yet." 

" Not yet," assents the Captain. " No. Not yet." 



452 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Susan and Mr. Toots are of the same opinion. After a 
silence they all sit down to supper, and drink to the young 
husband and wife in something else; and the last bottle of 
the old Madeira still remains among its dust and cobwebs, 
undisturbed. 

A few days have elapsed, and a stately ship is out at sea, 
spreading its white wings to the favouring wind. 

Upon the deck, image to the roughest man on board of 
something that is graceful, beautiful, and harmless something 
that it is good and pleasant to have there, and that should 
make the voyage prosperous is Florence. It is night, and 
she and Walter sit alone, watching the solemn path of light 
upon the sea between them and the moon. 

At length she cannot see it plainly, for the tears that fill 
her eyes ; and then she lays her head down on his breast, and 
puts her arms around his neck, saying, " Oh Walter, dearest 
love, I am so happy ! " 

Her husband holds her to his heart, and they are very quiet, 
and the stately ship goes on serenely. 

"As I hear the sea," says Florence, "and sit watching it, 
it brings so many days into my mind. It makes me think 
so much " 

" Of Paul, my love. I know it does." 

Of Paul and Walter. And the voices in the waves are 
always whispering to Florence, in their ceaseless murmuring, 
of love of love, eternal and illimitable, not bounded by the 
confines of this world, or by the end of time, but ranging 
still, beyond the sea, beyond the sky, to the invisible country 
far away ! 



CHAPTER LVIII. 

AFTER A LAPSE. 

THE sea had ebbed and flowed, through a whole year. 
Through a whole year, the winds and clouds had come and 
gone; the ceaseless work of Time had been performed, in 
storm and sunshine. Through a whole year, the tides of 
human chance and change had set in their allotted courses. 
Through a whole year, the famous House of Dombey and 
Son had fought a fight for life, against cross accidents, 
doubtful rumours, unsuccessful ventures, unpropitious times, 
and most of all, against the infatuation of its head, who 
would not contract its enterprises by a hair's breadth, and 
would not listen to a word of warning that the ship he 
strained so hard against the storm, was weak, and could not 
bear it. 

The year was out, and the great House was down. 

One summer afternoon; a year, wanting some odd days, 
after the marriage in the City church ; there was a buzz and 
whisper upon 'Change of a great failure. A certain cold 
proud man, well known there, was not there, nor was he 
represented there. Next day it was noised abroad that 
Dombey ancl Son had stopped, and next night there was a 
List of Bankrupts published, headed by that name. 

The world was very busy now, in sooth, and had a deal 
to say. It was an innocently credulous and a much ill-used 
world. It was a world in which there was no other sort of 



454 DOMBEY AND SON. 

bankruptcy whatever. There were no conspicuous people in 
it, trading far and wide on rotten banks of religion, patriotism, 
virtue, honour. There was no amount worth mentioning of 
mere paper in circulation, on which anybody lived pretty 
handsomely, promising to pay great sums of goodness with 
no effects. There were no short-comings anywhere, in any 
thing but money. The world was very angry indeed ; and 
the people especially, who, in a worse world, might have 
been supposed to be bankrupt traders themselves in shows 
and pretences, were observed to be mightily indignant. 

Here was a new inducement to dissipation, presented to 
that sport of circumstances, Mr. Perch the Messenger ! It 
was apparently the fate of Mr. Perch to be always waking 
up, and finding himself famous. He had but yesterday, as 
one might say, subsided into private life from the celebrity 
of the elopement and the events that followed it ; and now 
he was made a more important man than ever, by the bank 
ruptcy. Gliding from his bracket in the outer office where 
he now sat, watching the strange faces of accountants and 
others, who quickly superseded nearly all the old clerks, Mr. 
Perch had but to show himself in the court outside, or, at 
farthest, in the bar of the King's Arms, to be asked a multi 
tude of questions, almost certain to include that interesting 
question, what would he take to drink ? Then would Mr. 
Perch descant upon the hours of acute uneasiness he and 
Mrs. Perch had suffered out at Balls Pond, when they first 
suspected " things was going wrong." Then would Mr. Perch 
relate to gaping listeners, in a low voice, as if the corpse of 
the deceased House were lying unburied in the next room, 
how Mrs. Perch had first come to surmise that things was 
going wrong by hearing him (Perch) moaning in his sleep, 
" twelve and ninepence in the pound, twelve and ninepence 
in the pound ! " Which act of somnambulism he supposed 
to have originated in the impression made upon him by the 
change in Mr. Dombey's face. Then would he inform them 
how he had once said, " Might I make so bold as ask, Sir, 



BANKRUPTCY, 455 

are you unhappy in your mind ? " and how Mr. Dombey had 
replied, " My faithful Perch but no, it cannot be ! " and with 
that had struck his hand upon his forehead, and said, " Leave 
me, Perch! 11 Then, in short, would Mr. Perch, a victim to 
his position, tell all manner of lies ; affecting himself to tears 
by those that were of a moving nature, and really believing 
that the inventions of yesterday had, on repetition, a sort of 
truth about them to-day. 

Mr. Perch always closed these conferences by meekly re 
marking, That, of course, whatever his suspicions might have 
been (as if he had ever had any !) it wasn't for him to betray 
his trust, was it? Which sentiment (there never being any 
creditors present) was received as doing great honour to his 
feelings. Thus, he generally brought away a soothed con 
science and left an agreeable impression behind him, when 
he returned to his bracket : again to sit watching the strange 
faces of the accountants and others, making so free with the 
great mysteries, the Books ; or now and then to go on tiptoe 
into Mr. Dombey's empty room, and stir the fire ; or to take 
an airing at the door, and have a little more doleful chat 
with any straggler whom he knew; or to propitiate, with 
various small attentions, the head accountant : from whom 
Mr. Perch had expectations of a messengership in a Fire 
Office, when the affairs of the House should be wound up. 

To Major Bagstock, the bankruptcy was quite a calamity. 
The Major was not a sympathetic character his attention 
being wholly concentrated on J. B. nor was he a man subject 
to lively emotions, except in the physical regards of gasping 
and choking. But he had so paraded his friend Dombey at 
the club ; had so flourished him at the heads of the members 
in general, and so put them down by continual assertion of 
his riches; that the club, being but human, was delighted to 
retort upon the Major, by asking him, with a show of great 
concern, whether this tremendous smash had been at all 
expected, and how his friend Dombey bore it. To such 
questions, the Major, waxing very purple, would reply that 



456 DOMBEY AND SON. 

it was a bad world, Sir, altogether; that Joey knew a thing 
or two, but had been done, Sir, done like an infant; that 
if you had foretold this, Sir, to J. Bagstock, when he went 
abroad with Dombey and was chasing that vagabond up and 
down France, J. Bagstock would have pooh-pooh'd you 
would have pooh-poohed you, Sir, by the Lord ! That Joe 
had been deceived, Sir, taken in, hoodwinked, blindfolded, but 
was broad awake again and staring; insomuch, Sir, that if 
Joe's father were to rise up from the grave to-morrow, he 
wouldn't trust the old blade with a penny piece, but would 
tell him that his son Josh was too old a soldier to be done 
again, Sir. That he was a suspicious, crabbed, cranky, used- 
up, J. B. infidel, Sir; and that if it were consistent with the 
dignity of a rough and tough old Major, of the old school, 
who had had the honour of being personally known to, and 
commended by, their late Royal Highnesses the Dukes of 
Kent and York, to retire to a tub and live in it, bv Gad ! 

*/ 

Sir, he'd have a tub in Pall Mall to-morrow, to show his 
contempt for mankind ! 

Of all this, and many variations of the same tune, the 
Major would deliver himself with so many apoplectic 
symptoms, such rollings of his head, and such violent growls 
of ill usage and resentment, that the younger members of 
the club surmised he had invested money in his friend 
Dombey's House, and lost it; though the older soldiers and 
deeper dogs, who knew Joe better, wouldn't hear of such 
a thing. The unfortunate Native, expressing no opinion, 
suffered dreadfully; not merely in his moral feelings, which 
were regularly fusilladed by the Major every hour in the day, 
and riddled through and through, but in his sensitiveness to 
bodily knocks and bumps, which was kept continually on the 
stretch. For six entire weeks after the bankruptcy, this 
miserable foreigner lived in a rainy season of boot-jacks and 
brushes. 

Mrs. Chick had three ideas upon the subject of the terrible 
reverse. The first was that she could not understand it. 



A DINNER OF CONDOLENCE. 457 

The second, that her brother had not made an effort. The 
third, that if she had been invited to dinner on the day of 
that first party, it never would have happened ; and that she 
had said so, at the time. 

Nobody^s opinion stayed the misfortune, lightened it, or 
made it heavier. It was understood that the affairs of the 
House were to be wound up as they best could be ; that Mr. 
Dombey freely resigned everything he had, and asked for no 
favour from any one. That any resumption of the business 
was out of the question, as he would listen to no friendly 
negotiation having that compromise in view; that he had 
relinquished every post of trust or distinction he had held, 
as a man respected among merchants; that he was dying, 
according to some ; that he was going melancholy mad, 
according to others ; that he was a broken man, according 
to all. 

The clerks dispersed after holding a little dinner of con 
dolence among themselves, which was enlivened by comic 
singing, and went off admirably. Some took places abroad, 
and some engaged in other Houses at home ; some looked up 
relations in the country, for whom they suddenly remembered 
they had a particular affection ; and some advertised for 
employment in the newspapers. Mr. Perch alone remained 
of all the late establishment, sitting on his bracket looking 
at the accountants, or starting off it, to propitiate the head 
accountant, who was to get him into the Fire Office. The 
Counting House soon got to be dirty and neglected. The 
principal slipper and dogs 1 collar seller, at the corner of the 
court, would have doubted the propriety of throwing up his 
forefinger to the brim of his hat, any more, if Mr. Dombey 
had appeared there now; and the ticket porter, with his 
hands under his white apron, moralised good sound morality 
about ambition, which (he observed) was not, in his opinion, 
made to rhyme to perdition, for nothing. 

Mr. Morfin, the hazel-eyed bachelor, with the hair and 
whiskers sprinkled with grey, was perhaps the only person 



458 DOMBEY AND SON. 

within the atmosphere of the House its head, of course, 
excepted who was heartily and deeply affected by the 
disaster that had befallen it. He had treated Mr. Dombey 
with due respect and deference through many years, but he 
had never disguised his natural character, or meanly truckled 
to him, or pampered his master passion for the advancement 
of his own purposes. He had, therefore, no self-disrespect to 
avenge ; no long-tightened springs to release with a quick 
recoil. He worked early and late to unravel whatever was 
complicated or difficult in the records of the transactions of 
the House ; was always in attendance to explain whatever 
required explanation ; sat in his old room sometimes very 
late at night, studying points by his mastery of which he 
could spare Mr. Dombey the pain of being personally referred 
to ; and then would go home to Islington, and calm his mind 
by producing the most dismal and forlorn sounds out of his 
violoncello before going to bed. 

He was solacing himself with this melodious grumbler one 
evening, and, having been much dispirited by the proceedings 
of the day, was scraping consolation out of its deepest notes, 
when his landlady (who was fortunately deaf, and had no 
other consciousness of these performances than a sensation of 
something rumbling in her bones) announced a lady. 

"In mourning,"" she said. 

The violoncello stopped immediately; and the performer, 
laying it on the sofa with great tenderness and care, made 
a sign that the lady was to come in. He followed directly, 
and met Harriet Carker on the stair. 

" Alone ! " he said, " and John here this morning ! Is 
there anything the matter, my dear? But no," he added, 
"your face tells quite another story ." 

"I am afraid it is a selfish revelation that you see there, 
then," she answered. 

"It is a very pleasant one," said he; "and, if selfish, a 
novelty too, worth seeing in you. But I don't believe that." 

He had placed a chair for her by this time, and sat down 



AGAIN, HARRIET AND MR. MORFIN. 459 

opposite; the violoncello lying snugly on the sofa between 
them. 

"You will not be surprised at my coming alone, or at 
John's not having told you I was coming," said Harriet; 
"and you will believe that, when I tell you why I have 
come. May I do so now ? " 

"You can do nothing better." 

"You were not busy?" 

He pointed to the violoncello lying on the sofa, and said, 
"I have been, all day. Here's my witness. I have been 
confiding all my cares to it. I wish I had none but my own 
to tell." 

" Is the House at an end ? " said Harriet, earnestly. 

"Completely at an end." 

" Will it never be resumed ? " 

" Never." 

The bright expression of her face was not overshadowed as 
her lips silently repeated the word. He seemed to observe 
this with some little involuntary surprise : and said again : 

"Never. You remember what I told you. It has been, 
all along, impossible to convince him ; impossible to reason 
with him; sometimes, impossible even to approach him. 
The worst has happened ; and the House has fallen, never 
to be built up any more." 

"And Mr. Dombey, is he personally ruined?" 

"Ruined." 

"Will he have no private fortune left? Nothing?" 

A certain eagerness in her voice, and something that was 
almost joyful in her look, seemed to surprise him more and 
more; to disappoint him too, and jar discordantly against 
his own emotions. He drummed with the fingers of one 
hand on the table, looking wistfully at her, and shaking his 
head, said, after a pause: 

"The extent of Mr. Dombey's resources is not accurately 
within my knowledge; but though they are doubtless very 
large, his obligations are enormous. He is a gentleman of 



460 DOMBEY AND SON. 

high honour and integrity. Any man in his position could, 
and many a man in his position would, have saved himself, 
by making terms which would have very slightly, almost 
insensibly, increased the losses of those who had had dealings 
with him, and left him a remnant to live upon. But he is 
resolved on payment to the last farthing of his means. His 
own words are, that they will clear, or nearly clear, the 
House, and that no one can lose much. Ah, Miss Harriet, 
it would do us no harm to remember oftener than we do, 
that vices are sometimes only virtues carried to excess ! His 
pride shows well in this." 

She heard him with little or no change in her expression, 
and with a divided attention that showed her to be busy 
with something in her own mind. When he was silent, she 
asked him hurriedly : 

" Have you seen him lately ? " 

"No one sees him. AVhen this crisis of his affairs renders 
it necessary for him to come out of his house, he comes out 
for the occasion, and again goes home, and shuts himself up, 
and will see no one. He has written me a letter, acknow 
ledging our past connexion in higher terms than it deserved, 
and parting from me. I am delicate of obtruding myself 
upon him now, never having had much intercourse with him 
in better times ; but I have tried to do so. I have written, 
gone there, entreated. Quite in vain." 

He watched her, as in the hope that she would testify 
some greater concern than she had yet shown; and spoke 
gravely and feelingly, as if to impress her the more; but 
there was no change in her. 

"Well, well, Miss Harriet," he said, with a disappointed 
air, "this is not to the purpose. You have not come here 
to hear this. Some other and pleasanter theme is in your 
mind. Let it be in mine, too, and we shall talk upon more 
equal terms. Come ! " 

"No, it is the same theme," returned Harriet, with frank 
and quick surprise. "Is it not likely that it should be? 



HARRIET ASKS A FAVOUR. 461 

Is it not natural that John and I should have been thinking 
and speaking very much of late of these great changes? 
Mr. Dombey, whom he served so many years you know 
upon what terms reduced, as you describe ; and we quite 
rich!" 

Good, tine face, as that face of hers was, and pleasant as 
it had been to him, Mr. Morfin, the hazel-eyed bachelor, 
since the first time he had ever looked upon it, it pleased 
him less at that moment, lighted with a ray of exultation, 
than it had ever pleased him before. 

"I need not remind you, 1 '* said Harriet, casting down her 
eyes upon her black dress, "through what means our circum 
stances changed. You have not forgotten that our brother 
James, upon that dreadful day, left no will, no relations but 
ourselves. 111 

The face was pleasanter to him now, though it was pale 
and melancholy, than it had been a moment since. He 
seemed to breathe more cheerily. 

"You know, 11 she said, "our history, the history of both 
my brothers, in connexion with the unfortunate, unhappy 
gentleman, of whom you have spoken so truly. You know 
how few our wants are John's and mine and what little 
use we have for money, after the life we have led together 
for so many years; and now that he is earning an income 
that is ample for us, through your kindness. You are not 
unprepared to hear what favour I have come to ask of 
you? 11 

"I hardly know. I was, a minute ago. Now, I think, I 
am not. 11 

"Of my dead brother I say nothing. If the dead know 
what we do but you understand me. Of my living brother 
I could say much : but what need I say more, than that this 
act of duty, in which I have come to ask your indispensable 
assistance, is his own, and that he cannot rest until it is 
performed ! " 

She raised her eyes again ; and the light of exultation in 



462 DOMBEY AND SON. 

her face began to appear beautiful, in the observant eyes 
that watched her. 

"Dear Sir," she went on to say, "it must be done very 
quietly and secretly. Your experience and knowledge will 
point out a way of doing it. Mr. Dombey may, perhaps, 
be led to believe that it is something saved, unexpectedly, 
from the wreck of his fortunes; or that it is a voluntary 
tribute to his honourable and upright character, from some 
of those with whom he has had great dealings,; or that it 
is some old lost debt repaid. There must be many ways 
of doing it. I know you will choose the best. The favour 
I have come to ask is, that you will do it for us in your own 
kind, generous, considerate manner. That you will never 
speak of it to John, whose chief happiness in this act of 
restitution is to do it secretly, unknown, and unapproved 
of: that only a very small part of the inheritance may be 
reserved to us, until Mr. Dombey shall have possessed the 
interest of the rest for the remainder of his life ; that you 
will keep our secret, faithfully but that I am sure you will; 
and that, from this time, it may seldom be whispered, even 
between you and me, but may live in my thoughts only as a 
new reason for thankfulness to Heaven, and joy and pride in 
my brother." 

Such a look of exultation there may be on Angels 1 faces, 
when the one repentant sinner enters Heaven, among ninety- 
nine just men. It was not dimmed or tarnished by the joyful 
tears that filled her eyes, but was the brighter for them. 

"My dear Harriet," said Mr. Morfin, after a silence, "I 
was not prepared for this. Do I understand you that you 
wish to make your own part in the inheritance available for 
your good purpose, as well as John's ? " 

"Oh yes," she returned. "When we have shared every 
thing together for so long a time, and have had no care, 
hope, or purpose apart, could I bear to be excluded from 
my share in this ? May I not urge a claim to be my brother's 
partner and companion to the last?" 



ASSISTANCE READILY PROMISED. 463 

"Heaven forbid that I should dispute it! 11 he replied. 

" We may rely on your friendly help ? " she said. " I knew 
we might ! " 

"I should be a worse man than, than I hope I am, or 
would willingly believe myself, if I could not give you that 
assurance from my heart and soul. You may, implicitly. 
Upon my honour, I will keep your secret. And if it should 
be found that Mr. Dombey is so reduced as I fear he will 
be, acting on a determination that there seem to be no 
means of influencing, I will assist you to accomplish the 
design, on which you and John are jointly resolved." 

She gave him her hand, and thanked him with a cordial, 
happy face. 

"Harriet," he said, detaining it in his. "To speak to 
you of the worth of any sacrifice that you can make now 
above all, of any sacrifice of mere money would be idle and 
presumptuous. To put before you any appeal to reconsider 
your purpose or to set narrow limits to it, would be, I feel, 
not less so. I have no right to mar the great end of a great 
history, by any obtrusion of my own weak self. I have every 
right to bend my head before what you confide to me, satisfied 
that it comes from a higher and better source of inspiration 
than my poor worldly knowledge. I will say only this : I 
am your faithful steward ; and I would rather be so, and 
your chosen friend, than I would be anybody in the world, 
except yourself." 

She thanked him again, cordially, and wished him good 
night. 

" Are you going home ? " he said. " Let me go with you." 

" Not to-night. I am not going home now ; I have a visit 
to make alone. Will you come to-morrow ? " 

" Well, well," said he, " Til come to-morrow. In the mean 
time, I'll think of this, and how we can best proceed. And 
perhaps youll think of it, dear Harriet, and and think of 
me a little in connexion with it." 

He handed her down to a coach she had in waiting at the 



464 DOMBEY AND SON. 

door ; and if his landlady had not been deaf, she would have 
heard him muttering as he went back up stairs, when the 
coach had driven off, that we were creatures of habit, and 
it was a sorrowful habit to be an old bachelor. 

The violoncello lying on the sofa between the two chairs, 
he took it up, without putting away the vacant chair, and 
sat droning on it, and slowly shaking his head at the vacant 
chair, for a long, long time. The expression he communi 
cated to the instrument at first, though monstrously pathetic 
and bland, was nothing to the expression he communicated 
to his own face, and bestowed upon the empty chair : which 
Avas so sincere, that he was obliged to have recourse to 
Captain Cuttle's remedy more than once, and to rub his 
face with his sleeve. By degrees, however, the violoncello, 
in unison with his own frame of mind, glided melodiously 
into the Harmonious Blacksmith, which he played over and 
over again, until his ruddy and serene face gleamed like true 
metal on the anvil of a veritable blacksmith. In fine, the 
violoncello and the empty chair were the companions of his 
bachelorhood until nearly midnight; and when he took his 
supper, the violoncello set up on end in the sofa corner, big 
with the latent harmony of a whole foundry full of har 
monious blacksmiths, seemed to ogle the empty chair out of 
its crooked eyes, with unutterable intelligence. 

When Harriet left the house, the driver of her hired coach, 
taking a course that was evidently no new one to him, went 
in and out by bye-ways, through that part of the suburbs, 
until he arrived at some open ground, where there were a 
few quiet little old houses standing among gardens. At the 
garden-gate of one of these he stopped, and Harriet alighted. 

Her gentle ringing at the bell was responded to by a 
dolorous-looking woman, of light complexion, with raised 
eyebrows, and head drooping on one side, who curtseyed at 
sight of her, and conducted her across the garden to the 
house. 

" How is your patient, nurse, to-night ? "' said Harriet. 



MRS. WICKAM. 465 

"In a poor way, Miss, I am afraid. Oh how she do 
remind me, sometimes, of my uncle's Betsy Jane ! " returned 
the woman of the light complexion, in a sort of doleful 
rapture. 

"In what respect?" asked Harriet. 

"Miss, in all respects, 11 replied the other, "except that 
she's grown up, and Betsy Jane, when at death's door, was 
but a child. 11 

"But you have told me she recovered, 11 observed Harriet 
mildly; "so there is the more reason for hope, Mrs. Wickam.' 1 

"Ah, Miss, hope is an excellent thing for such as has the 
spirits to bear it! 11 said Mrs. Wickam, shaking her head. 
"My own spirits is not equal to it, but I don't owe it any 
grudge. I envys them that is so blest ! " 

"You should try to be more cheerful, 11 remarked Harriet. 

"Thank you, Miss, Tm sure, 11 said Mrs. Wickam grimly. 
" If I was so inclined, the loneliness of this situation you'll 
excuse my speaking so free would put it out of my power 
in four and twenty hours ; but I an't at all. I'd rather not. 
The little spirits that I ever had, I was bereaved of at 
Brighton some few years ago, and I think I feel myself the 
better for it. 11 

In truth, this was the very Mrs. Wickam who had super 
seded Mrs. Richards as the nurse of little Paul, and who 
considered herself to have gained the loss in question, under 
the roof of the amiable Pipchin. The excellent and thought 
ful old system, hallowed by long prescription, which has 
usually picked out from the rest of mankind the most dreary 
and uncomfortable people that could possibly be laid hold 
of, to act as instructors of youth, finger-posts to the virtues, 
matrons, monitors, attendants on sick beds, and the like, 
had established Mrs. Wickam in very good business as a 
nurse, and had led to her serious qualities being particularly 
commended by an admiring and numerous connexion. 

Mrs. Wickam, with her eyebrows elevated, and her head 
on one side, lighted the way up stairs to a clean, neat 
VOL, ii. 2 H 



466 DOMBEY AND SON. 

chamber, opening on another chamber dimly lighted, where 
there was a bed. In the first room, an old woman sat 
mechanically staring out at the open window, on the darkness. 
In the second, stretched upon the bed, lay the shadow of a 
figure that had spurned the wind and rain, one wintry night ; 
hardly to be recognised now, but by the long black hair 
that showed so very black against the colourless face, and 
all the white things about it. 

Oh, the strong eyes, and the weak frame ! The eyes that 
turned so eagerly and brightly to the door when Harriet 
came in; the feeble head that could not raise itself, and 
moved so slowly round upon its pillow ! 

" Alice ! " said the visitor's mild voice, " am I late to 
night?" 

" You always seem late, but are always early. 11 

Harriet had sat down by the bedside now, and put her 
hand upon the thin hand lying there. 

"You are better? 11 

Mrs. Wickam, standing at the foot of the bed, like a dis 
consolate spectre, most decidedly and forcibly shook her head 
to negative this position. 

" It matters very little ! " said Alice, with a faint smile. 
"Better or worse to-day, is but a day^ difference perhaps 
not so much. 11 

Mrs. Wickam, as a serious character, expressed her approval 
with a groan ; and having made some cold dabs at the bottom 
of the bed-clothes, as feeling for the patient's feet and ex 
pecting to find them stony, went clinking among the medicine 
bottles on the table, as who should say, "while we are here, 
let us repeat the mixture as before. 11 

" No, 11 said Alice, whispering to her visitor, " evil courses, 
and remorse, travel, want, and weather, storm within, and 
storm without, have worn my life away. It will not last 
much longer. 1 ' 

She drew the hand Up as she spoke, and laid her face 
against it. 



FADING AWAY. 467 

" I lie here, sometimes, thinking I should like to live until 
I had had a little time to show you how grateful I could 
be ! It is a weakness, and soon passes. Better for you as it 
is. Better for me ! " 

How different her hold upon the hand, from what it had 
been when she took it by the fireside on the bleak winter 
evening ! Scorn, rage, defiance, recklessness, look here ! This 
is the end. 

Mrs. Wickam having clinked sufficiently among the bottles, 
now produced the mixture. Mrs. Wickam looked hard at 
her patient in the act of drinking, screwed her mouth up 
tight, her eyebrows also, and shook her head, expressing that 
tortures shouldn't make her say it was a hopeless case. Mrs. 
Wickam then sprinkled a little cooling-stuff about the room, 
with the air of a female grave-digger, who was strewing ashes 
on ashes, dust on dust for she was a serious character and 
withdrew to partake of certain funeral baked meats down stairs. 

" How long is it," asked Alice, " since I went to you and 
told you what I had done, and when you were advised it was 
too late for any one to follow?"" 

" It is a year and more," said Harriet. 

"A year and more," said Alice, thoughtfully intent upon 
her face. "Months upon months since you brought me 
here ! " 

Harriet answered " Yes." 

"Brought me here, by force of gentleness and kindness. 
Me ! " said Alice, shrinking with her face behind the hand, 
"and made me human by woman's looks and words, and 
angel's deeds ! " 

Harriet bending over her, composed and soothed her. By 
and bye, Alice lying as before, with the hand against her 
face, asked to have her mother called. 

Harriet called to her more than once, but the old woman 
was so absorbed looking out at the open window on the 
darkness, that she did not hear. It was not until Harriet 
went to her and touched her, that she rose up, and Came. 



468 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Mother," said Alice, taking the hand again, and fixing 
her lustrous eyes lovingly upon her visitor, while she merely 
addressed a motion of her finger to the old woman, " tell her 
what you know." 

"To-night, my deary?" 

"Aye, mother," answered Alice, faintly and solemnly, 
to-night ! " 

The old woman, whose wits appeared disordered by alarm, 
remorse, or grief, came creeping along the side of the bed, 
opposite to that on which Harriet sat; and kneeling down, 
so as to bring her withered face upon a level with the 
coverlet, and stretching out her hand, so as to touch her 
daughter's arm, began: 

"My handsome gal " 

Heaven, what a cry was that, with which she stopped there, 
gazing at the poor form lying on the bed ! 

" Changed, long ago, mother ! Withered, long ago," said 
Alice, without looking at her. " Don't grieve for that now." 

" My daughter," faltered the old woman, " my gal who'll 
soon get better, and shame 'em all with her good looks." 

Alice smiled mournfully at Harriet, and fondled her hand 
a little closer, but said nothing. 

"Who'll soon get better, I say," repeated the old woman, 
menacing the vacant air with her shrivelled fist, " and who'll 
shame 'em all with her good looks she will. I say she will ! 
she shall ! " as if she were in passionate contention with 
some unseen opponent at the bedside, who contradicted her 
"my daughter has been turned away from, and cast out, 
but she could boast relationship to proud folks too, if she 
chose. Ah ! To proud folks ! There's relationship without 
your clergy and your wedding rings they may make it, but 
they can't break it and my daughter's well related. Show 
me Mrs. Dombey, and I'll show you my Alice's first cousin." 

Harriet glanced from the old woman to the lustrous eyes 
intent upon her face, and derived corroboration from them. 

"What!" cried the old woman, her nodding head bridling 



THE OLD WOMAN'S STORY. 469 

with a ghastly vanity. " Though I am old and ugly now, 
much older by life and habit than years though, I was once 
as young as any. Ah ! as pretty too, as many ! I was a 
fresh country wench in my time, darling," stretching out her 
arm to Harriet, across the bed, "and looked it, too. Down 
in my country, Mrs. Dombey's father and his brother were 
the gayest gentlemen and the best-liked that came a visiting 
from London they have long been dead, though ! Lord, 
Lord, this long while ! The brother, who was my Ally's 
father, longest of the two." 

She raised her head a little, and peered at her daughter's 
face ; as if from the remembrance of her own youth, she had 
flown to the remembrance of her child's. Then, suddenly, 
she laid her face down on the bed, and shut her head up in 
her hands and arms. 

"They were as like," said the old woman, without looking 
up, "as you could see two brothers, so near an age there 
wasn't much more than a year between them, as I recollect 
and if you could have seen my gal, as I have seen her 
once, side by side with the other's daughter, you'd have seen, 
for all the difference of dress and life, that they were like 
each other. Oh ! is the likeness gone, and is it my gal 
only my gal that's to change so ! " 

"We shall all change, mother, in our turn," said Alice. 

" Turn ! " cried the old woman, " but why not hers as soon 
as my gal's ! The mother must have changed she looked 
as old as me, and full as wrinkled through her paint but 
site was handsome. What have / done, I, what have 7 done 
worse than her, that only my gal is to lie there fading ! " 

With another of those wild cries, she went running out 
into the room from which she had come ; but immediately, in 
her uncertain mood, returned, and creeping up to Harriet, said : 

"That's what Alice bade me tell you, deary. That's all. 
I found it out when I began to ask who she was, and all 
about her, away in Warwickshire there, one summer-time. 
Such relations was no good to me, then. They wouldn't 



470 DOMBEY AND SON. 

have owned me, and had nothing to give me. I should 
have asked ""em, maybe, for a little money, afterwards, if it 
hadn't been for my Alice; she'd a'most have killed me, if I 
had, I think. She was as proud as t'other in her way," said 
the old woman, touching the face of her daughter fearfully, 
and withdrawing her hand, "for all she's so quiet now; but 
she'll shame 'em with her good looks yet. Ha, ha ! She'll 
shame 'em, will my handsome daughter!" 

Her laugh, as she retreated, was worse than her cry ; worse 
than the burst of imbecile lamentation in which it ended; 
worse than the doting air with which she sat down in her 
old seat, and stared out at the darkness. 

The eyes of Alice had all this time been fixed on Harriet, 
whose hand she had never released. She said now : 

"I have felt, lying here, that I should like you to know 
this. It might explain, I have thought, something that used 
to help to harden me. I had heard so much, in my wrong 
doing, of my neglected duty, that I took up with the belief 
that duty had not been done to me, and that as the seed 
was sown, the harvest grew. I somehow made it out that 
when ladies had bad homes and mothers, they went wrong in 
their way, too; but that their way was not so foul a one as 
mine, and they had need to bless God for it. That is all 
past. It is like a dream, now, which I cannot quite remember 
or understand. It has been more and more like a dream, 
every day, since you began to sit here, and to read to me. 
I only tell it you, as I can recollect it. Will you read to 
me a little more ? " 

Harriet was Avithdrawing her hand to open the book, when 
Alice detained it for a moment. 

" You will not forget my mother ? I forgive her, if I have 
any cause. I know that she forgives me, and is sorry in her 
heart. You will not forget her?" 

" Never, Alice ! " 

" A moment yet. Lay my head so, dear, that as you read 
I may see the words in your kind face." 



COMFORT FOR THE DYING. 471 

Harriet complied and read read the eternal book for all 
the weary and the heavy-laden ; for all the wretched, fallen, 
and neglected of this earth read the blessed history, in 
which the blind lame palsied beggar, the criminal, the woman 
stained with shame, the shunned of all our dainty clay, has 
each a portion, that no human pride, indifference, or sophistry, 
through all the ages that this world shall last, can take away, 
or by the thousandth atom of a grain reduce read the 
ministry of Him who, through the round of human life, and 
all its hopes and griefs, from birth to death, from infancy to 
age, had sweet compassion for, and interest in, its every scene 
and stage, its every suffering and sorrow. 

"I shall come," said Harriet, when she shut the book, 
"very early in the morning. 1 ' 

The lustrous eyes, yet fixed upon her face, closed for a 
moment, then opened ; and Alice kissed and blest her. 

The same eyes followed her to the door ; and in their 
light, and on the tranquil face, there was a smile when it 
was closed. 

They never turned away. She laid her hand upon her 
breast, murmuring the sacred name that had been read to 
her; and life passed from her face, like light removed. 

Nothing lay there, any longer, but the ruin of the mortal 
house on which the rain had beaten, and the black hair that 
had fluttered in the wintry wind. 



CHAPTER LIX. 

RETRIBUTION. 

CHANGES have come again upon the great house in the long 
dull street, once the scene of Florence's childhood and lone 
liness. It is a great house still, proof against wind and 
weather, without breaches in the roof, or shattered windows, 
or dilapidated walls; but it is a ruin none the less, and the 
rats fly from it. 

Mr. Towlinson and company are, at first, incredulous in 
respect of the shapeless rumours that they hear. Cook says 
our people's credit ain't so easy shook as that comes to, thank 
God ; and Mr. Towlinson expects to hear it reported that the 
Bank of England's a going to break, or the jewels in the 
Tower to be sold up. But, next come the Gazette, and Mr. 
Perch: and Mr. Perch brings Mrs. Perch to talk it over in 
the kitchen, and to spend a pleasant evening. 

As soon as there is no doubt about it, Mr. Towlinson's 
main anxiety is that the failure should be a good round one 
not less than a hundred thousand pound. Mr. Perch don't 
think himself that a hundred thousand pound will nearly 
cover it. The women, led by Mrs. Perch and Cook, often 
repeat " a hun-dred thou-sand pound ! " with awful satisfac 
tion as if handling the words were like handling the money ; 
and the housemaid, who has her eye on Mr. Towlinson, wishes 
she had only a hundredth part of the sum to bestow on the 
man of her choice. Mr. Towlinson, still mindful of his old 



ANOTHER KITCHEN COUNCIL. 473 

wrong, opines that a foreigner would hardly know what to 
do with so much money, unless he spent it on his whiskers; 
which bitter sarcasm causes the housemaid to withdraw in 
tears. 

But not to remain long absent; for Cook, who has the 
reputation of being extremely good-hearted, says, whatever 
they do, let 'em stand by one another now, Towlinson, for 
there's no telling how soon they may be divided. They have 
been in that house (says Cook) through a funeral, a wedding, 
and a running-away ; and let it not be said that they couldn't 
agree among themselves at such a time as the present. Mrs. 
Perch is immensely affected by this moving address, and openly 
remarks that Cook is an angel. Mr. Towlinson replies to 
Cook, far be it from him to stand in the way of that good 
feeling which he could wish to see ; and adjourning in quest 
of the housemaid, and presently returning with that young 
lady on his arm, informs the kitchen that foreigners is only 
his fun, and that him and Anne have now resolved to take 
one another for better for worse, and to settle in Oxford 
Market in the general green-grocery and herb and leech 
line, where your kind favours is particular requested. This 
announcement is received with acclamation ; and Mrs. Perch, 
projecting her soul into futurity, says, "girls," in Cook's ear, 
in a solemn whisper. 

Misfortune in the family without feasting, in these lower 
regions, couldn't be. Therefore Cook tosses up a hot dish 
or two for supper, and Mr. Towlinson compounds a lobster 
salad to be devoted to the same hospitable purpose. Even 
Mrs. Pipchin, agitated by the occasion, rings her bell, and 
sends down word that she requests to have that little bit of 
sweetbread that was left, warmed up for her supper, and sent 
to her on a tray with about a quarter of a tumbler-full of 
mulled sherry ; for she feels poorly. 

There is a little talk about Mr. Dombey, but very little. 
It is chiefly speculation as to how long he has known that 
this was going to happen. Cook says shrewdly, " Oh a long 



474 DOMBEY AND SON. 

time, bless you ! Take your oath of that/' And reference 
being made to Mr. Perch, he confirms her view of the case. 
Somebody wonders what he'll do, and whether he'll go out 
in any situation. Mr. Towlinson thinks not, and hints at a 
refuge in one of them gen-teel almshouses of the better kind. 
" Ah, where he'll have his little garden, you know," says Cook 
plaintively, " and bring up sweet peas in the spring." " Ex 
actly so," says Mr. Towlinson, "and be one of the Brethren 
of something or another." " We are all brethren," says Mrs. 
Perch, in a pause of her drink. "Except the sisters," says 
Mr. Perch. " How are the mighty fallen ! " remarks Cook. 
" Pride shall have a fall, and it always was and will be so ! " 
observes the housemaid. 

It is wonderful how good they feel, in making these 
reflections ; and what a Christian unanimity they are sensible 
of, in bearing the common shock with resignation. There 
is only one interruption to this excellent state of mind, which 
is occasioned by a young kitchen-maid of inferior rank in 
black stockings who, having sat with her mouth open for 
a long time, unexpectedly discharges from it words to this 
effect, " Suppose the wages shouldn't be paid ! " The com 
pany sit for a moment speechless ; but Cook recovering first, 
turns upon the young woman, and requests to know how she 
dares insult the family, whose bread she eats, by such a 
dishonest supposition, and whether she thinks that anybody, 
with a scrap of honour left, could deprive poor servants of 
their pittance ? " Because if that is your religious feelings, 
Mary Daws," says Cook warmly, " I don't know where you 
mean to go to." 

Mr. Towlinson don't know either; nor anybody; and the 
young kitchen-maid, appearing not to know exactly, herself, 
and scouted by the general voice, is covered with confusion, 
as with a garment. 

After a few days, strange people begin to call at the house, 
and to make appointments with one another in the dining- 
room, as if they lived there. Especially, there is a gentleman. 



THE ESTABLISHMENT DISCHARGED 475 

of a Mosaic Arabian cast of countenance, with a very massive 
watch-guard, who whistles in the drawing-room, and, while 
he is waiting for the other gentleman, who always has pen 
and ink in his pocket, asks Mr. Towlinson (by the easy name 
of "Old Cock,") if he happens to know what the figure of 
them crimson and gold hangings might have been, when new 
bought. The callers and appointments in the dining-room 
become more numerous every day, and every gentleman seems 
to have pen and ink in his pocket, and to have some occasion 
to use it. At last it is said that there is going to be a Sale ; 
and then more people arrive, with pen and ink in their 
pockets, commanding a detachment of men with carpet caps, 
who immediately begin to pull up the carpets, and knock 
the furniture about, and to print off thousands of impressions 
of their shoes upon the hall and staircase. 

The council down stairs are in full conclave all this time, 
and, having nothing to do, perform perfect feats of eating. 
At length, they are one day summoned in a body to Mrs. 
Pipchin's room, and thus addressed by the fair Peruvian : 

"Your masters in difficulties,"" says Mrs. Pipchin, tartly. 
" You know that, I suppose ? " 

Mr. Towlinson, as spokesman, admits a general knowledge 
of the fact. 

"And you're all on the look-out for yourselves, I warrant 
you," says Mrs. Pipchin, shaking her head at them. 

A shrill voice from the rear exclaims, "No more than 
yourself ! " 

"That's your opinion, Mrs. Impudence, is it?" says the 
ireful Pipchin, looking with a fiery eye over the intermediate 
heads. 

" Yes, Mrs. Pipchin, it is," replies Cook, advancing. " And 
what then, pray ? " 

"Why, then you may go as soon as you like," says Mrs. 
Pipchin. "The sooner the better; and I hope I shall never 
see your face again." 

With this the doughty Pipchin produces a canvas bag; 



476 DOMBEY AND SON. 

and tells her wages out to that day, and a month beyond 
it : and clutches the money tight until a receipt for the same 
is duly signed, to the last up-stroke; when she grudgingly 
lets it go. This form of proceeding Mrs. Pipchin repeats 
with every member of the household, until all are paid. 

"Now those that choose can go about their business," says 
Mrs. Pipchin, " and those that choose can stay here on board 
wages for a week or so, and make themselves useful. Except," 
says the inflammable Pipchin, " that slut of a cook, who'll go 
immediately.'" 

" That, 11 says Cook, " she certainly will ! I wish you good 
day, Mrs. Pipchin, and sincerely wish I could compliment 
you on the sweetness of your appearance ! " 

"Get along with you,' 1 says Mrs. Pipchin, stamping her 
foot. 

Cook sails off with an air of beneficent dignity, highly 
exasperating to Mrs. Pipchin, and is shortly joined below 
stairs by the rest of the confederation. 

Mr. Towlinson then says that, in the first place, he would 
beg to propose a little snack of something to eat; and over 
that snack would desire to offer a suggestion which he thinks 
will meet the position in which they find themselves. The 
refreshment being produced, and very heartily partaken of, 
Mr. Towlinson 1 s suggestion is, in effect, that Cook is going, 
and that if we are not true to ourselves, nobody will be true 
to us. That they have lived in that house a long time, and 
exerted themselves very much to be sociable together. (At 
this, Cook says, Avith emotion, " Hear, hear ! " and Mrs. Perch, 
who is there again, and full to the throat, sheds tears.) And 
that he thinks, at the present time, the feeling ought to be 
" Go one, go all ! " The housemaid is much affected by this 
generous sentiment, and warmly seconds it. Cook says she 
feels it's right, and only hopes it's not done as a compliment 
to her, but from a sense of duty. Mr. Towlinson replies, 
from a sense of duty ; and that now he is driven to express 
his opinions, he will openly say, that he does not think it 



SALE BY AUCTION. 477 

over-respectable to remain in a house where Sales and such 
like are carrying forwards. The housemaid is sure of it ; and 
relates, in confirmation, that a strange man, in a carpet cap, 
offered this very morning to kiss her on the stairs. Here 
upon, Mr. Towlinson is starting from his chair, to seek and 
" smash "" the offender ; when he is laid hold on by the ladies, 
who beseech him to calm himself, and to reflect that it is 
easier and wiser to leave the scene of such indecencies at 
once. Mrs. Perch, presenting the case in a new light, even 
shows that delicacy towards Mr. Dombey, shut up in his own 
rooms, imperatively demands precipitate retreat. " For what," 
says the good woman, "must his feelings be, if he was to 
come upon any of the poor servants that he once deceived 
into thinking him immensely rich ! " Cook is so struck by 
this moral consideration that Mrs. Perch improves it with 
several pious axioms, original and selected. It becomes a 
clear case that they must all go. Boxes are packed, cabs 
fetched, and at dusk that evening there is not one member 
of the party left. 

The house stands, large and weather-proof, in the long 
dull street ; but it is a ruin, and the rats fly from it. 

The men in the carpet caps go on tumbling the furniture 
about; and the gentlemen with the pens and ink make out 
inventories of it, and sit upon pieces of furniture never made 
to be sat upon, and eat bread and cheese from the public- 
house on other pieces of furniture never made to be eaten 
on, and seem to have a delight in appropriating precious 
articles to strange uses. Chaotic combinations of furniture 
also take place. Mattresses and bedding appear in the 
dining-room ; the glass and china get into the conservatory ; 
the great dinner service is set out in heaps on the long divan 
in the large drawing-room ; and the stair-wires, made into 
fasces, decorate the marble chimney-pieces. Finally, a rug, 
with a printed bill upon it, is hung out from the balcony ; 
and a similar appendage graces either side of the hall door. 

Then, all day long, there is a retinue of mouldy gigs and 



478 DOMBEY AND SON. 

chaise-carts in the street ; and herds of shabby vampires, Jew 
and Christian, over-run the house, sounding the plate-glass 
mirrors with their knuckles, striking discordant octaves on 
the Grand Piano, drawing wet forefingers over the pictures, 
breathing on the blades of the best dinner-knives, punching 
the squabs of chairs and sofas with their dirty fists, touzling 
the feather beds, opening and shutting all the drawers, 
balancing the silver spoons and forks, looking into the very 
threads of the drapery and linen, and disparaging everything. 
There is not a secret place in the whole house. Fluffy and 
snuffy strangers stare into the kitchen-range as curiously as 
into the attic clothes-press. Stout men with napless hats on, 
look out of the bedroom windows, and cut jokes Avith friends 
in the street. Quiet, calculating spirits withdraw into the 
dressing-rooms with catalogues, and make marginal notes 
thereon, with stumps of pencils. Two brokers invade the 
very fire-escape, and take a panoramic survey of the neigh 
bourhood from the top of the house. The swarm and buzz, 
and going up and down, endure for days. The Capital 
Modern Household Furniture, &c., is on view. 

Then there is a palisade of tables made in the best draw 
ing-room ; and on the capital, french-polished, extending, 
telescopic range of Spanish mahogany dining-tables with 
turned legs, the pulpit of the Auctioneer is erected; and 
the herds of shabby vampires, Jew and Christian, the 
strangers fluffy and snuffy, and the stout men with the 
napless hats, congregate about it and sit upon everything 
within reach, mantel-pieces included, and begin to bid. 
Hot, humming, and dusty are the rooms all day; and 
high above the heat, hum, and dust the head and shoulders, 
voice and hammer, of the Auctioneer, are ever at work. The 
men in the carpet caps get flustered and vicious with tumbling 
the Lots about, and still the Lots are going, going, gone ; 
still coming on. Sometimes there is joking and a general 
roar. This lasts all day and three days following. The 
Capital Modern Household Furniture, &c., is on sale. 



THE HOUSE A RUIN. 479 

Then the mouldy gigs and chaise-carts reappear ; and 
with them come spring-vans and waggons, and an army of 
porters with knots. All day long, the men with carpet caps 
are screwing at screw-drivers and bed-winches, or staggering 
by the dozen together on the staircase under heavy burdens, 
or upheaving perfect rocks of Spanish mahogany, best rose 
wood, or plate-glass, into the gigs and chaise-carts, vans and 
waggons. All sorts of vehicles of burden are in attendance, 
from a tilted waggon to a wheel-barrow. Poor Paul's little 
bedstead is carried off in a donkey-tandem. For nearly a 
whole week, the Capital Modern Household Furniture, &c., 
is in course of removal. 

At last it is all gone. Nothing is left about the house 
but scattered leaves of catalogues, littered scraps of straw 
and hay, and a battery of pewter pots behind the hall-door. 
The men with the carpet caps gather up their screw-drivers 
and bed- winches into bags, shoulder them, and walk oft'. 
One of the pen-and-ink gentlemen goes over the house as a 
last attention ; sticking up bills in the windows respecting 
the lease of this desirable family mansion, and shutting the 
shutters. At length he follows the men with the carpet caps. 
None of the invaders remain. The house is a ruin, and the 
rats fly from it. 

Mrs. Pipchm's apartments, together with those locked 
rooms on the ground-floor where the window-blinds are 
drawn down close, have been spared the general devastation. 
Mrs. Pipchin has remained austere and stony during the 
proceedings in her own room ; or has occasionally looked 
in at the sale to see what the goods are fetching, and to 
bid for one particular easy chair. Mrs. Pipchin has been 
the highest bidder for the easy chair, and sits upon her 
property when Mrs. Chick comes to see her. 

" How is my brother, Mrs. Pipchin ? " says Mrs. Chick. 

"I don't know any more than the deuce," says Mrs. 
Pipchin. "He never does me the honour to speak to me. 
He has his meat and drink put in the next room to his 



480 DOMBEY AND SON. 

own; and what he takes, he comes out and takes when 
there's nobody there. It's no use asking me. I know no 
more about him than the man in the south who burnt his 
mouth by eating cold plum porridge." 

This the acrimonious Pipchin says with a flounce. 

" But good gracious me ! " cries Mrs. Chick blandly. " How 
long is this to last! If my brother will not make an effort, 
Mi's. Pipchin, what is to become of him ? I am sure I should 
have thought he had seen enough of the consequences of not 
making an effort, by this time, -to be warned against that 
fatal error. 11 

" Hoity toity ! " says Mrs. Pipchin, rubbing her nose. 
" There's a great fuss, I think, about it. It an't so wonder 
ful a case. People have had misfortunes before now, and 
been obliged to part with their furniture. I'm sure / 
have ! " 

" My brother," pursues Mrs. Chick profoundly, " is so 
peculiar so strange a man. He is the most peculiar man 
/ ever saw. Would any one believe that when he received 
news of the marriage and emigration of that unnatural child 
it's a comfort to me, now, to remember that I always said 
there was something extraordinary about that child : but 
nobody minds me would anybody believe, I say, that he 
should then turn round upon me and say he had supposed, 
from my manner, that she had come to my house ? Why, 
my gracious ! And would anybody believe that when I merely 
say to him, * Paul, I may be very foolish, and I have no doubt 
I am, but I cannot understand how your affairs can have got 
into this state,' he should actually fly at me, and request that 
I will come to see him no more until he asks me ! Why, my 
goodness ! " 

" Ah ! " says Mrs. Pipchin. " It's a pity he hadn't a little 
more to do with mines. They'd have tried his temper for 
him." 

" And what," resumes Mrs. Chick, quite regardless of Mrs. 
Pipchm's observations, " is it to end in ? That's what I want 



MRS. CHICK'S REASONING. 481 

to know. What does my brother mean to do ? He must 
do something. It's of no use remaining shut up in his own 
rooms. Business won't come to him. No. He must go to 
it. Then why don't he go ! He knows where to go, I 
suppose, having been a man of business all his life. Very 
good. Then why not go there ? " 

Mrs. Chick, after forging this powerful chain of reasoning, 
remains silent for a minute to admire it. 

" Besides,' 1 says the discreet lady, with an argumentative 
air, " who ever heard of such obstinacy as his staying shut 
up here through all these dreadful disagreeables? It's not 
as if there was no place for him to go to. Of course he 
could have come to our house. He knows he is at home 
there, I suppose? Mr. Chick has perfectly bored about it, 
and I said with my own lips, ' Why surely, Paul, you don't 
imagine that because your affairs have got into this state, 
you are the less at home to such near relatives as ourselves ? 
You don't imagine that we are like the rest of the world?' 
But no; here he stays all through, and here he is. Why, 
good gracious me, suppose the house was to be let ! What 
would he do then? He couldn't remain here then. If he 
attempted to do so, there would be an ejectment, an action 
for Doe, and all sorts of things ; and then he must go. Then 
why not go at first instead of at last? And that brings me 
back to what I said just now, and I naturally ask what is to 
be the end of it?" 

" I know what's to be the end of it, as far as / am con 
cerned," replies Mrs. Pipchin, "and that's enough for me. 
I'm going to take myself off in a jiffy." 

" In a which, Mrs. Pipchin," says Mrs. Chick. 

"In a jiffy," retorts Mrs. Pipchin sharply. 

" Ah, well ! really I can't blame you, Mrs. Pipchin," says 
Mrs. Chick, with frankness. 

" It would be pretty much the same to me, if you could," 
replies the sardonic Pipchin. "At any rate I'm going. I 
can't stop here. I should be dead in a week. I had to 

VOL. II. 2 I 



DOMBEY AND SON. 

cook my own pork chop yesterday, and I'm not used to it. 
My constitution will be giving way next. Besides, I had a 
very fair connexion at Brighton when I came here little 
Pankey's folks alone were worth a good eighty pounds a-year 
to me and I can't afford to throw it away. I've written to 
my niece, and she expects me by this time." 

" Have you spoken to my brother ? " inquires Mrs. Chick. 

"Oh, yes, it's very easy to say speak to him," retorts Mrs. 
Pipchin. " How is it done ! I called out to him yesterday, 
that I was no use here, and that he had better let me send 
for Mrs. Richards, He grunted something or other that 
meant yes, and I sent ! Grunt indeed ! If he had been 
Mr. Pipchin, he'd have had some reason to grunt. Yah ! 
I've no patience with it ! " 

Here this exemplary female, who has pumped up so much 
fortitude and virtue from the depths of the Peruvian mines, 
rises from her cushioned property to see Mrs. Chick to the 
door. Mrs. Chick, deploring to the last the peculiar character 
of her brother, noiselessly retires, much occupied with her 
OAvn sagacity and clearness of head. 

In the dusk of the evening Mr. Toodle, being off duty, 
arrives with Polly and a box, and leaves them, with a 
sounding kiss, in the hall of the empty house, the retired 
character of which affects Mr. Toodle's spirits strongly. 

" I tell you what, Polly, my dear," says Mr. Toodle, " being 
now an ingein-driver, and well to do in the world, I shouldn't 
allow of your coming here, to be made dull-like, if it warn't 
for favours past. But favours past, Polly, is never to be 
forgot. To them which is in adversity, besides, your face is 
a cord'l. So let's have another kiss on it, my dear. You 
wish no better than to do a right act, I know ; and my views 
is, that it's right and dutiful to do this. Good night, 
Polly ! " 

Mrs. Pipchin by this time looms dark in her black bom- 
bazeen skirts, black bonnet, and shawl ; and has her personal 
property packed up ; and has her chair (late a favourite chair 



THE RATS ALL GONE. '483 

of Mr. Dombey's and the dead bargain of the sale) ready 
near the street door ; and is only waiting for a fly van, going 
to-night to Brighton on private service, which is to call for 
her, by private contract, and convey her home. 

Presently it comes. Mrs. Pipchin's wardrobe being handed 
in and stowed away, Mrs. Pipelines chair is next handed in, 
and placed in a convenient corner among certain trusses of 
hay ; it being the intention of the amiable woman to occupy 
the chair during her journey. Mrs. Pipchin herself is next 
handed in, and grimly takes her seat. There is a snaky 
gleam in her hard grey eye, as of anticipated rounds of 
buttered toast, relays of hot chops, worryings and quellings 
of young children, sharp snappings at poor Berry, and all 
the other delights of her Ogress's castle. Mrs. Pipchin almost 
laughs as the Fly Van drives off, and she composes her black 
bombazeen skirts, and settles herself among the cushions of 
her easy chair. 

The house is such a ruin that the rats have fled, and there 
is not one left. 

But Polly, though alone in the deserted mansion for 
there is no companionship in the shut-up rooms in which 
its late master hides his head is not alone long. It is 
night ; and she is sitting at work in the housekeeper's room, 
trying to forget what a lonely house it is, and what a 
history belongs to it; when there is a knock at the hall 
door, as loud sounding as any knock can be, striking into 
such an empty place. Opening it, she returns across the 
echoing hall, accompanied by a female figure in a close black 
bonnet. It is Miss Tox, and Miss Tox's eyes are red. 

"Oh, Polly, 11 says Miss Tox, "when I looked in to have 
a little lesson with the children just now, I got the message 
that you left for me ; and as soon as I could recover my 
spirits at all, I came on after you. Is there no one here 
but you?" 

" Ah ! not a soul, 11 says Polly. 

" Have you seen him ? " whispers Miss Tox. 



484 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"Bless you," returns Polly, "no; he has not been seen 
this many a day. They tell me he never leaves his room." 

" Is he said to be ill ? " inquires Miss Tox. 

"No, ma'am, not that I know of,"" returns Polly, "except 
in his mind. He must be very bad there, poor gentleman ! " 

Miss Tox's sympathy is such that she can scarcely speak. 
She is no chicken, but she has not grown tough with age 
and celibacy. Her heart is very tender, her compassion very 
genuine, her homage very real. Beneath the locket with the 
h'shy eye in it, Miss Tox bears better qualities than many a 
less whimsical outside ; such qualities as will outlive, by many 
courses of the sun, the best outsides and brightest husks that 
fall in the harvest of the great reaper. 

It is long before Miss Tox goes away, and before Polly, 
with a candle flaring on the blank stairs, looks after her, 
for company, down the street, and feels unwilling to go back 
into the dreary house, and jar its emptiness with the heavy 
fastenings of the door, and glide away to bed. But all this 
Polly does ; and in the morning sets in one of those darkened 
rooms such matters as she has been advised to prepare, and 
then retires and enters them no more until next morning at 
the same hour. There are bells there, but they never ring; 
and though she can sometimes hear a footfall going to and 
fro, it never comes out. 

Miss Tox returns early in the day. It then begins to be 
Miss Tox"s occupation to prepare little dainties or what 
are such to her to be carried into these rooms next morn 
ing. She derives so much satisfaction from the pursuit, that 
she enters on it regularly from that time ; and brings daily 
in her little basket, various choice condiments selected from 
the scanty stores of the deceased owner of the powdered 
head and pigtail. She likewise brings, in sheets of curl 
paper, morsels of cold meats, tongues of sheep, halves of 
fowls, for her own dinner; and sharing these collations with 
Polly, passes the greater part of her time in the ruined house 
that the rats have fled from : hiding, in a fright at every 



LET HIM REMEMBER IT! 485 

sound, stealing in and out like a criminal ; only desiring to 
be true to the fallen object of her admiration, unknown 
to him, unknown to all the world but one poor simple 
woman. 

The Major knows it; but no one is the wiser for that, 
though the Major is much the merrier. The Major, in a 
fit of curiosity, has charged the Native to watch the house 
sometimes, and find out what becomes of Dombey. The 
Native has reported Miss Tox's fidelity, and the Major has 
nearly choked himself dead with laughter. He is perma 
nently bluer from that hour, and constantly wheezes to him 
self, his lobster eyes starting out of his head, "Damme, Sir, 
the woman's a born idiot ! " 

And the ruined man. How does he pass the hours, alone ? 

" Let him remember it in that room, years to come ! " 
He did remember it. It was heavy on his mind now ; heavier 
than all the rest. 

" Let him remember it in that room, years to come ! The 
rain that falls upon the roof, the wind that mourns outside 
the door, may have foreknowledge in their melancholy sound. 
Let him remember it in that room, years to come ! " 

He did remember it. In the miserable night he thought 
of it; in the dreary day, the wretched dawn, the ghostly, 
memory-haunted twilight. He did remember it. In agony, 
in sorrow, in remorse, in despair! "Papa! Papa! Speak 
to me, dear Papa ! " He heard the words again, and saw the 
face. He saw it fall upon the trembling hands, and heard the 
one prolonged low cry go upward. 

He was fallen, never to be raised up any more. For the 
night of his worldly ruin there was no to-morrow's sun ; for 
the stain of his domestic shame there was no purification ; 
nothing, thank Heaven, could bring his dead child back to 
life. But that which he might have made so different in all 
the Past which might have made the Past itself so different, 
though this he hardly thought of now that which was his 
own work, that which he could so easily have wrought into 



486 DOMBEY AND SON. 

a blessing, and had set himself so steadily for years to form 
into a curse : that was the sharp grief of his soul. 

Oh ! He did remember it ! The rain that fell upon the 
roof, the wind that mourned outside the door that night, 
had had foreknowledge in their melancholy sound. He knew ? 
now, what he had done. He knew, now, that he had called 
down that upon his head, which bowed it lower than the 
heaviest stroke of fortune. He knew, now, what it was to 
be rejected and deserted; now, when every loving blossom 
he had withered in his innocent daughter's heart was snowing 
down in ashes on him. 

He thought of her, as she had been that night when he 
and his bride came home. He thought of her as she had 
been, in all the home-events of the abandoned House. He 
thought, now, that of all around him, she alone had never 
changed. His boy had faded into dust, his proud wife had 
sunk into a polluted creature, his flatterer and friend had 
been transformed into the worst of villains, his riches had 
melted away, the very walls that sheltered him looked on 
him as a stranger ; she alone had turned the same mild gentle 
look upon him always. Yes, to the latest and the last. She 
had never changed to him nor had he ever changed to her 
and she was lost. 

As, one by one, they fell away before his mind his baby- 
hope, his wife, his friend, his fortune oh how the mist, 
through which he had seen her, cleared, and showed him her 
true self ! Oh, how much better than this that he had loved 
her as he had his boy, and lost her as he had his boy, and 
laid them in their early grave together! 

In his pride for he was proud yet he let the world go 
from him freely. As it fell away, he shook it off. Whether 
he imagined its face as expressing pity for him, or indiffer 
ence to him, he shunned it alike. It was in the same degree 
to be avoided, in either aspect. He had no idea of any 
one companion in his misery, but the one he had driven 
away. What he would have said to her, or what consolation 



A DOUBLE LOSS. 487 

submitted to receive from her, he never pictured to himself. 
But he always knew she would have been true to him, if he 
had suffered her. He always knew she would have loved him 
better now, than at any other time: he was as certain that 
it was in her nature, as he was that there was a sky above 
him ; and he sat thinking so, in his loneliness, from hour to 
hour. Day after day uttered this speech ; night after night 
showed him this knowledge. 

It began, beyond all doubt (however slow it advanced for 
some time), in the receipt of her young husband's letter, and 
the certainty that she was gone. And yet so proud he was 
in his ruin, or so reminiscent of her, only as something that 
might have been his, but was lost beyond redemption that 
if he could have heard her voice in an adjoining room, he 
would not have gone to her. If he could have seen her in the 
street, and she had done no more than look at him as she 
had been used to look, he would have passed on with his old 
cold unforgiving face, and not addressed her, or relaxed it, 
though his heart should have broken soon afterwards. How 
ever turbulent his thoughts, or harsh his anger had been, at 
first, concerning her marriage, or her husband, that was all 
past now. He chiefly thought of what might have been, and 
what was not. What was, was all summed up in this : that 
she was lost, and he bowed down with sorrow and remorse. 

And now he felt that he had had two children born to 
him in that house, and that between him and the bare wide 
empty walls there was a tie, mournful, but hard to rend 
asunder, connected with ,a double childhood, and a double 
loss. He had thought to leave the house knowing he must 
go, not knowing whither upon the evening of the day on 
which this feeling first struck root in his breast; but he 
resolved to stay another night, and in the night to ramble 
through the rooms once more. 

He came out of his solitude when it was the dead of night, 
and with a candle in his hand went softly up the stairs. Of 
all the footmarks there, making them as common as the 



488 DOMBEY AND SON. 

common street, there was not one, he thought, but had seemed 
at the time to set itself upon his brain while he had kept 
close, listening. He looked at their number, and their hurry, 
and contention foot treading foot out, and upward track 
and downward jostling one another and thought, with 
absolute dread and wonder, how much he must have suffered 
during that trial, and what a changed man he had cause 
to be. He thought, besides, oh was there, somewhere in 
the world, a light footstep that might have worn out in a 
moment half those marks ! and bent his head, and wept as 
he went up. 

He almost saw it, going on before. He stopped, looking 
up towards the skylight; and a figure, childish itself, but 
carrying a child, and singing as it went, seemed to be there 
again. Anon, it was the same figure, alone, stopping for an 
instant, with suspended breath; the bright hair clustering 
loosely round its tearful face ; and looking back at him. 

He wandered through the rooms : lately so luxurious ; now 
so bare and dismal and so changed, apparently, even in their 
shape and size. The press of footsteps was as thick here; 
and the same consideration of the suffering he had had, per 
plexed and terrified him. He began to fear that all this 
intricacy in his brain would drive him mad ; and that his 
thoughts already lost coherence as the footprints did, and 
were pieced on to one another, with the same trackless 
involutions, and varieties of indistinct shapes. 

He did not so much as know in which of these rooms she 
had lived, when she was alone. He was glad to leave them, 
and go wandering higher up. Abundance of associations 
were here, connected with his false wife, his false friend and 
servant, his false grounds of pride ; but he put them all by 
now, and only recalled miserably, weakly, fondly, his two 
children. 

Everywhere, the footsteps ! They had had no respect for 
the old room high up, Avhere the little bed had been ; he could 
hardly find a clear space there, to throw himself down, on 



WANDERING THROUGH THE ROOMS. 489 

the floor, against the wall, poor broken man, and let his tears 
flow as they would. He had shed so many tears here, long 
ago, that he was less ashamed of his weakness in this place 
than in any other perhaps, with that consciousness, had 
made excuses to himself for coming here. Here, with stoop 
ing shoulders, and his chin dropped on his breast, he had 
come. Here, thrown upon the bare boards, in the dead of 
night, he wept, alone a proud man, even then; who, if a 
kind hand could have been stretched out, or a kind face could 
have looked in, would have risen up, and turned away, and 
gone down to his cell. 

When the day broke he was shut up in his rooms again. 
He had meant to go away to-day, but clung to this tie in 
the house as the last and only thing left to him. He would 
go to-morrow. To-morrow came. He would go to-morrow. 
Every night, within the knowledge of no human creature, he 
came forth, and wandered through the despoiled house like a 
ghost. Many a morning when the day broke, his altered face, 
drooping behind the closed blind in his window, imperfectly 
transparent to the light as yet, pondered on the loss of his 
two children. It was one child no more. He re-united them 
in his thoughts, and they were never asunder. Oh, that he 
could have united them in his past love, and in death, and 
that one had not been so much worse than dead ! 

Strong mental agitation and disturbance was no novelty to 
him, even before his late sufferings. It never is, to obstinate 
and sullen natures ; for they struggle hard to be such. 
Ground, long undermined, will often fall down in a moment; 
what was undermined here in so many ways, weakened, and 
crumbled, little by little, more and more, as the hand moved 
on the dial. 

At last he began to think he need not go at all. He 
might yet give up what his creditors had spared him (that 
they had not spared him more, was his own act), and only 
sever the tie between him and the ruined house, by severing 
that other link 



490 DOMBEY AND SON. 

It was then that his footfall was audible in the late house 
keeper's room, as he walked to and fro ; but not audible in 
its true meaning, or it would have had an appalling sound. 

The world was very busy and restless about him. He be 
came aware of that again. It was whispering and babbling. 
It was never quiet. This, and the intricacy and complication 
of the footsteps, harassed him to death. Objects began to 
take a bleared and russet colour in his eyes. Dombey and 
Son was no more his children no more. This must be 
thought of, well, to-morrow. 

He thought of it to-morrow; and sitting thinking in his 
chair, saw in the glass, from time to time, this picture : 

A spectral, haggard, wasted likeness of himself, brooded 
and brooded over the empty fireplace. Now it lifted up its 
head, examining the lines and hollows in its face; now hung 
it down again, and brooded afresh. Now it rose and walked 
about; now passed into the next room, and came back with 
something from the dressing-table in its breast. Now, it was 
looking at the bottom of the door, and thinking. 

Hush! what? 

It was thinking that if blood were to trickle that way, and 
to leak out into the hall, it must be a long time going so far. 
It would move so stealthily and slowly, creeping on, with here 
a lazy little pool, and there a start, and then another little 
pool, that a desperately wounded man could only be dis 
covered through its means, either dead or dying. When it 
had thought of this a long while, it got up again, and 
walked to and fro with its hand in its breast. He glanced 
at it occasionally, very curious to watch its motions, and he 
marked how wicked and murderous that hand looked. 

Now it was thinking again ! What was it thinking ? 

Whether they would tread in the blood Avhen it crept so 
far, and carry it about the house among those many prints 
of feet, or even out into the street. 

It sat down, with its eyes upon the empty fireplace, and as 
it lost itself in thought there shone into the room a gleam 



HIS DAUGHTER! 491 

of light; a ray of sun. It was quite unmindful, and sat 
thinking. Suddenly it rose, with a terrible face, and that 
guilty hand grasping what was in its breast. Then it was 
arrested by a cry a wild, loud, piercing, loving, rapturous 
cry and he only saw his own reflection in the glass, and at 
his knees, his daughter! 

Yes. His daughter! Look at her! Look here! Down 
upon the ground, clinging to him, calling to him, folding her 
hands, praying to him. 

" Papa ! Dearest Papa ! Pardon me, forgive me ! I have 
come back to ask forgiveness on my knees. I never can be 
happy more, without it ! " 

Unchanged still. Of all the world, unchanged. Raising 
the same face to his, as on that miserable night. Asking his 
forgiveness ! 

" Dear Papa, oh don't look strangely on me ! I never 
meant to leave you. I never thought of it, before or after 
wards. I was frightened when I went away, and could not 
think. Papa, dear, I am changed. I am penitent. I know 
my fault. I know my duty better now. Papa, don't cast 
me off, or I shall die ! " 

He tottered to his chair. He felt her draw his arms about 
her neck; he felt her put her own round his; he felt her 
kisses on his face ; he felt her wet cheek laid against his own ; 
he felt oh, how deeply ! all that he had done. 

Upon the breast that he had bruised, against the heart that 
he had almost broken, she laid his face, now covered with his 
hands, and said, sobbing: 

" Papa, love, I am a mother. I have a child who will soon 
call Walter by the name by which I call you. When it was 
born, and when I knew how much I loved it, I knew what I 
had done in leaving you. Forgive me, dear Papa! oh say 
God bless me, and my little child ! " 

He would have said it, if he could. He would have raised 
his hands and besought her for pardon, but she caught them 
in her own, and put them down, hurriedly. 



492 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" My little child was born at sea, Papa. I prayed to God 
(and so did Walter for me) to spare me, that I might come 
home. The moment I could land, I came back to you. 
Never let us be parted any more, Papa ! " 

His head, now grey, was encircled by her arm; and he 
groaned to think that never, never, had it rested so before. 

"You will come home with me, Papa, and see my baby. 
A boy, Papa. His name is Paul. I think I hope he's 
like 11 

Her tears stopped her. 

"Dear Papa, for the sake of my child, for the sake of the 
name we have given him, for my sake, pardon Walter. He 
is so kind and tender to me. I am so happy with him. It 
was not his fault that we were married. It was mine. I 
loved him so much. 1 " 

She clung closer to him, more endearing and more earnest. 

"He is the darling of my heart, Papa. I would die for 
him. He will love and honour you as I will. We will teach 
our little child to love and honour you ; and we will tell him, 
when he can understand, that you had a son of that name 
once, and that he died, and you were very sorry ; but that 
he is gone to Heaven, where we all hope to see him when 
our time for resting comes. Kiss me, Papa, as a promise 
that you will be reconciled to Walter to my dearest husband 
to the father of the little child who taught me to come 
back, Papa. Who taught me to come back ! " 

As she clung closer to him, in another burst of tears, he 
kissed her on her lips, and, lifting up his eyes, said, " Oh my 
God, forgive me, for I need it very much ! r> 

With that he dropped his head again, lamenting over and 
caressing her, and there was not a sound in all the house for 
a long, long time; they remaining clasped in one another's 
arms, in the glorious sunshine that had crept in with 
Florence. 

He dressed himself for going out, with a docile submission 
to her entreaty ; and walking with a feeble gait, and looking 



EXULTATION. 493 

back, with a tremble, at the room in which he had been so 
long shut up, and where he had seen the picture in the glass, 
passed out with her into the hall. Florence, hardly glancing 
round her, lest she should remind him freshly of their last 
parting for their feet were on the very stones where he had 
struck her in his madness and keeping close to him, with 
her eyes upon his face, and his arm about her, led him out 
to a coach that was waiting at the door, and carried him 
away. 

Then, Miss Tox and Polly came out of their concealment, 
and exulted tearfully. And then they packed his clothes, 
and books, and so forth, with great care; and consigned 
them in due course to certain persons sent by Florence in 
the evening, to fetch them. And then they took a last cup 
of tea in the lonely house. 

"And so Dombey and Son, as I observed upon a certain 
sad occasion, 1 ' said Miss Tox, winding up a host of recollec 
tions, "is indeed a daughter, Polly, after all."" 

" And a good one ! " exclaimed Polly. 

" You are right," said Miss Tox ; " and it's a credit to you, 
Polly, that you were always her friend when she was a little 
child. You were her friend long before I was, Polly,"" said 
Miss Tox ; " and you're a good creature. Robin ! " 

Miss Tox addressed herself to a bullet-headed young man, 
who appeared to be in but indifferent circumstances, and in 
depressed spirits, and who was sitting in a remote corner. 
Rising, he disclosed to view the form and features of the 
Grinder. 

"Robin," said Miss Tox, "I have just observed to your 
mother, as you may have heard, that she is a good 
creature." 

"And so she is, Miss," quoth the Grinder, with some 
feeling. 

" Very well, Robin," said Miss Tox, " I am glad to hear 
you say so. Now, Robin, as I am going to give you a trial, 
at your urgent request, as my domestic, with a view to your 



494 DOMBEY AND SON. 

restoration to respectability, I will take this impressive occa 
sion of remarking that I hope you will never forget that 
you have, and have always had, a good mother, and that 
you will endeavour so to conduct yourself as to be a comfort 
to her." 

"Upon my soul I will, Miss,"" returned the Grinder. "I 
have come through a good deal, and my intentions is now as 
straightfor'ard, Miss, as a covers " 

" I must get you to break yourself of that word, Robin, if 
you please, 1 ' interposed Miss Tox, politely. 

" If you please, Miss, as a chap's " 

" Thankee, Robin, no," returned Miss Tox. " I should 
prefer individual." 

" As a indiwiddle's," said the Grinder. 

"Much better," remarked Miss Tox, complacently; "in 
finitely more expressive ! " 

" can be," pursued Rob. "If I hadn't been and got 
made a Grinder on, Miss and Mother, which was a most 
unfortunate circumstance for a young co indiwiddle." 

"Very good indeed," observed Miss Tox, approvingly. 

" and if I hadn't been led away by birds, and then fallen 
into a bad service," said the Grinder, " I hope I might have 
done better. But it's never too late for a " 

" Indi " suggested Miss Tox. 

" widdle," said the Grinder, " to mend ; and I hope to 
mend, Miss, with your kind trial ; and wishing, mother, my 
love to father, and brothers and sisters, and saying of it." 

"I am very glad indeed to hear it," observed Miss Tox. 
" Will you take a little bread and butter, and a cup of tea, 
before we go, Robin ? " 

" Thankee, Miss," returned the Grinder ; who immediately 
began to use his own personal grinders in a most remarkable 
manner, as if he had been on very short allowance for a 
considerable period. 

Miss Tox being, in good time, bonneted and shawled, and 
Polly too, Rob hugged his mother, and followed his new 



ROB IN A NEW SITUATION. 495 

mistress away ; so much to the hopeful admiration of Polly, 
that something in her eyes made luminous rings round the 
gas-lamps as she looked after him. Polly then put out her 
light, locked the house-door, delivered the key at an agent's 
hard by, and went home as fast as she could go ; rejoicing in 
the shrill delight that her unexpected arrival would occasion 
there. The great house, dumb as to all that had been suffered 
in it, and the changes it had witnessed, stood frowning like 
a dark mute on the street ; baulking any nearer inquiries with 
the staring announcement that the lease of this desirable 
Family Mansion was to be disposed of. 



CHAPTER LX. 

CHIEFLY MATRIMONIAL. 

THE grand half-yearly festival holden by Doctor and Mrs. 
Blimber, on which occasion they requested the pleasure of the 
company of every young gentleman pursuing his studies in 
that genteel establishment, at an early party, when the hour 
Avas half-past seven o'clock, and when the object was quadrilles, 
had duly taken place, about this time ; and the young gentle 
men, with no unbecoming demonstrations of levity, had 
betaken themselves, in a state of scholastic repletion, to their 
own homes. Mr. Skettles had repaired abroad, permanently 
to grace the establishment of his father Sir Barnet Skettles, 
whose popular manners had obtained him a diplomatic ap 
pointment, the honours of which were discharged by himself 
and Lady Skettles, to the satisfaction even of their own 
countrymen and countrywomen : which was considered almost 
miraculous. Mr. Tozer, now a young man of lofty stature, 
in Wellington boots, was so extremely full of antiquity as 
to be nearly on a par with a genuine ancient Roman in 
his knowledge of English : a triumph that affected his good 
parents with the tenderest emotions, and caused the father 
and mother of Mr. Briggs (whose learning, like ill-arranged 
luggage, was so tightly packed that he couldn't get at any 
thing he wanted) to hide their diminished heads. The fruit 
laboriously gathered from the tree of knowledge by this latter 
young gentleman, in fact, had been subjected to so much 



A RETIRING CINCINNATUS. 497 

pressure, that it had become a kind of intellectual Norfolk 
Biffin, and had nothing of its original form or flavour remain 
ing. Master Bitherstone now, on whom the forcing system 
had the happier and not uncommon effect of leaving no im 
pression whatever, when the forcing apparatus ceased to work, 
was in a much more comfortable plight ; and being then on 
shipboard, bound for Bengal, found himself forgetting, with 
such admirable rapidity, that it was doubtful whether his 
declensions of noun-substantives would hold out to the end 
of the voyage. 

When Doctor Blimber, in pursuance of the usual course, 
would have said to the young gentlemen, on the morning of 
the party, " Gentlemen, we will resume our studies on the 
twenty-fifth of next month," he departed from the usual 
course, and said, " Gentlemen, when our friend Cincinnatus 
retired to his farm, he did not present to the senate any 
Roman whom he sought to nominate as his successor. But 
there is a Roman here," said Doctor Blimber, laying his hand 
on the shoulder of Mr. Feeder, B.A., " adolescens imprimis 
gravis et doctus, gentlemen, whom I, a retiring Cincinnatus, 
wish to present to my little senate, as their future Dictator. 
Gentlemen, we will resume our studies on the twenty-fifth 
of next month, under the auspices of Mr. Feeder, B.A." 
At this (which Doctor Blimber had previously called upon 
all the parents, and urbanely explained), the young gentlemen 
cheered; and Mr. Tozer, on behalf of the rest, instantly 
presented the Doctor with a silver inkstand, in a speech con 
taining very little of the mother-tongue, but fifteen quotations 
from the Latin, and seven from the Greek, which moved the 
younger of the young gentlemen to discontent and envy : 
they remarking, " Oh, ah ! It was all very well for old Tozer, 
but they didn't subscribe money for old Tozer to show oft' 
with, they supposed ; did they ? What business was it of old 
Tozer's more than anybody else's? It wasn't his inkstand. 
Why couldn't he leave the boys' property alone?" and 
murmuring other expressions of their dissatisfaction, which 

VOL. II. 2 K 



498 DOMBEY AND SON. 

seemed to find a greater relief in calling him old Tozer, than 
in any other available vent. 

Not a word had been said to the young gentlemen, nor 
a hint dropped, of anything like a contemplated marriage 
between Mr. Feeder, B.A., and the fair Cornelia Blimber. 
Doctor Blimber, especially, seemed to take pains to look as 
if nothing would surprise him more ; but it was perfectly 
well known to all the young gentlemen nevertheless, and 
when they departed for the society of their relations and 
friends, they took leave of Mr. Feeder with awe. 

Mr. Feeder's most romantic visions Avere fulfilled. The 
Doctor had determined to paint the house outside, and put 
it in thorough repair; and to give up the business, and to 
give up Cornelia. The painting and repairing began upon 
the very day of the young gentlemen's departure, and now 
behold ! the wedding morning was come, and Cornelia, in a 
new pair of spectacles, was waiting to be led to the hymeneal 
altar. 

The Doctor with his learned legs, and Mrs. Blimber in a 
lilac bonnet, and Mr. Feeder, B.A., with his long knuckles 
and his bristly head of hair, and Mr. Feeder's brother, the 
Reverend Alfred Feeder, M.A., who was to perform the 
ceremony, were all assembled in the drawing-room, and 
Cornelia with her orange-flowers and bridesmaids had just 
come down, and looked, as of old, a little squeezed in appear 
ance, but very charming, when the door opened, and the 
weak-eyed young man, in a loud voice, made the following 
proclamation : 

" MR. AND MRS. TOOTS ! " 

Upon which there entered Mr. Toots, grown extremely 
stout, and on his arm a lady very handsomely and becomingly 
dressed, with very bright black eyes. 

"Mrs. Blimber," said Mr. Toots, "allow me to present 
my wife."" 

Mrs. Blimber was delighted to receive her. Mrs. Blimber 
was a little condescending, but extremely kind. 



MR. FEEDER'S NUPTIALS. 499 

"And as you've known me for a long time, you know,"" 
said Mr. Toots, "let me assure you that she is one of the 
most remarkable women that ever lived." 

" My dear ! " remonstrated Mrs. Toots. 

"Upon my word and honour she is," said Mr. Toots. 
"I I assure you, Mrs. Blimber, she's a most extraordinary 
woman. 11 

Mrs. Toots laughed merrily, and Mrs. Blimber led her to 
Cornelia. Mr. Toots having paid his respects in that direc 
tion, and having saluted his old preceptor, who said, in 
allusion to his conjugal state, " Well, Toots, well, Toots ! So 
you are one of us, are you, Toots?" retired with Mr. 
Feeder, B.A., into a window. 

Mr. Feeder, B.A., being in great spirits, made a spar at 
Mr. Toots, and tapped him skilfully with the back of his 
hand on the breast-bone. 

"Well, old Buck!" said Mr. Feeder with a laugh. 
" Well ! Here AVC are ! Taken in and done for. Eh ? " 

"Feeder," returned Mr. Toots. "I give you joy. If you're 
as as as perfectly blissful in a matrimonial life, as I am 
myself, you'll have nothing to desire." 

"I don't forget my old friends, you see," said Mr. Feeder. 
"I ask 'em to my wedding, Toots." 

"Feeder," replied Mr. Toots gravely, "the fact is, that 
there were several circumstances which prevented me from 
communicating with you until after my marriage had been 
solemnised. In the first place, I had made a perfect Brute 
of myself to you, on the subject of Miss Dombey ; and I felt 
that if you were asked to any wedding of mine, you would 
naturally expect that it was with Miss Dombey, which involved 
explanations, that upon my word and honour, at that crisis, 
would have knocked me completely over. In the second place, 
our wedding was strictly private ; there being nobody present 
but one friend of myself and Mrs. TootsX who is a Captain 
in I don't exactly know in what," said Mr. Toots, "but 
it's of no consequence. I hope, Feeder, that in writing a 



500 . DOMBEY AND SON. 

statement of what had occurred before Mrs. Toots and myself 
went abroad upon our foreign tour, I fully discharged the 
offices of friendship. 1 ' 

" Toots, my boy," said Mr. Feeder, shaking his hands, " I 
was joking." 11 

f And now, Feeder,"" said Mr. Toots, " I should be glad to 
know what you think of my union." 

" Capital ! " returned Mr. Feeder. 

"You think it's capital, do you, Feeder?" said Mr. Toots 
solemnly. " Then how capital must it be to Me ! For you 
can never know what an extraordinary woman that is/' 

Mr. Feeder was willing to take it for granted. But Mr. 
Toots shook his head, and wouldn't hear of that being 
possible. 

" You see," said Mr. Toots, " what / wanted in a wife was 
in short, was sense. Money, Feeder, I had. Sense I I 
had not, particularly." 

Mr. Feeder murmured, " Oh, yes, you had, Toots ! " But 
Mr. Toots said : 

"No, Feeder, I had not. Why should I disguise it? I 
had not. I knew that sense was There," said Mr. Toots, 
.stretching out his hand towards his wife, "in perfect heaps. 
I had no relation to object or be offended, on the score of 
station ; for I had no relation. I have never had anybody 
belonging to me but my guardian, and him, Feeder, I have 
always considered as a Pirate and a Corsair. Therefore, you 
know it was not likely," said Mr. Toots, " that I should take 
Ills opinion." 

"No," said Mr. Feeder. 

"Accordingly," resumed Mr. Toots, "I acted on my own. 
Bright was the day on which I did so ! Feeder ! Nobody 
but myself can tell what the capacity of that woman's mind 
is. If ever the Rights of Women, and all that kind of thing, 
are properly attended to, it will be through her powerful 
intellect. Susan, my dear ! " said Mr. Toots, looking abruptly 
out of the window-curtains, "pray do not exert yourself!" 



MR. TOOTS MAKES A SPEECH. 501 

" My dear,"" said Mrs. Toots, " I was only talking.' 1 

" But, my love,"" said Mr. Toots, " pray do not exert your 
self. You really must be careful. Do not, my dear Susan, 
exert yourself. She's so easily excited, 11 said Mr. Toots, 
apart to Mrs. Blimber, "and then she forgets the medical 
man altogether." 

Mrs. Blimber was impressing on Mrs. Toots the necessity 
of caution, when Mr. Feeder, B.A., offered her his arm, and 
led her down to the carriages that were in waiting to go to 
church. Doctor Blimber escorted Mrs. Toots. Mr. Toots 
escorted the fair bride, around whose lambent spectacles two 
gauzy little bridesmaids fluttered like moths. Mr. Feeder's 
brother, Mr. Alfred Feeder, M.A., had already gone on, in 
advance, to assume his official functions. 

The ceremony was performed in an admirable manner. 
Cornelia, with her crisp little curls, " went in, 11 as the Chicken 
might have said, with great composure ; and Doctor Blimber 
gave her away, like a man who had quite made up his mind 
to it. The gauzy little bridesmaids appeared to suffer most. 
Mrs. Blimber was affected, but gently so ; and told the 
Reverend Mr. Alfred Feeder, M.A., on the way home, that 
if she could only have seen Cicero in his retirement at 
Tusculum, she would not have had a wish, now, ungratified. 

There was a breakfast afterwards, limited to the same small 
party; at which the spirits of Mr. Feeder, B.A., were tre 
mendous, and so communicated themselves to Mrs. Toots 
that Mr. Toots was several times heard to observe, across 
the table, " My dear Susan, dorft exert yourself ! " The best 
of it was, that Mr. Toots felt it incumbent on him to make 
a speech; and in spite of a whole code of telegraphic dis 
suasions from Mrs. Toots, appeared on his legs for the first 
time in his life. 

" I really, 11 said Mr. Toots, " in this house, where whatever 
was done to me in the way of of any mental confusion 
sometimes which is of no consequence and I impute to 
nobody I was always treated like one of Doctor Blimbers 



502 DOMBEY AND SON. 

family, and had a desk to myself for a considerable period 
can not allow my friend Feeder to be " 

Mrs. Toots suggested "married.'' 1 

" It may not be inappropriate to the occasion, or altogether 
uninteresting," said Mr. Toots with a delighted face, "to 
observe that my wife is a most extraordinary woman, and 
would do this much better than myself allow my friend 
Feeder to be married especially to " 

Mrs. Toots suggested "to Miss Blimber." 

" To Mrs. Feeder, my love ! " said Mr. Toots, in a subdued 
tone of private discussion : " ' whom God hath joined,' you 
know, 'let no man 1 don't you know? I cannot allow my 
friend Feeder to be married especially to Mrs. Feeder 
without proposing their their Toasts ; and may," said Mr. 
Toots, fixing his eyes on his wife, as if for inspiration in a 
high flight, " may the torch of Hymen be the beacon of joy, 
and may the flowers we have this day strewed in their path, 
be the the banishers of of gloom ! " 

Doctor Blimber, who had a taste for metaphor, was pleased 
with this, and said, " Very good, Toots ! Very well said, 
indeed, Toots ! " and nodded his head and patted his hands. 
Mr. Feeder made in reply, a comic speech chequered with 
sentiment. Mr. Alfred Feeder, M.A., was afterwards very 
happy on Doctor and Mrs. Blimber ; Mr. Feeder, B. A., scarcely 
less so, on the gauzy little bridesmaids. Doctor Blimber then, 
in a sonorous voice, delivered a few thoughts in the pastoral 
style, relative to the rushes among which it was the intention 
of himself and Mrs. Blimber to dwell, and the bee that would 
hum around their cot. Shortly after which, as the Doctor's 
eyes were twinkling in a remarkable manner, and his son-in- 
law had already observed that time was made for slaves, and 
had inquired whether Mrs. Toots sang, the discreet Mrs. 
Blimber dissolved the sitting, and sent Cornelia away, very 
cool and comfortable, in a post-chaise, with the man of her 
heart. 

Mr. and Mrs. Toots withdrew to the Bedford (Mrs. Toots 



MR. TOOTS'S ANXIETY FOR MRS. TOOTS 503 

had been there before in old times, under her maiden name 
of Nipper), and there found a letter, which it took Mr. 
Toots such an enormous time to read, that Mrs. Toots was 
frightened. 

" My dear Susan," said Mr. Toots, " fright is worse than 
exertion. Pray be calm ! " 

"Who is it 'from?" asked Mrs. Toots. 

" Why, my love," said Mr. Toots, " if s from Captain Gills. 
Do not excite yourself. Walters and Miss Dombey are 
expected home ! " 

" My dear," said Mrs. Toots, raising herself quickly from 
the sofa, very pale, " don't try to deceive me, for it's no use, 
they're come home I see it plainly in your face ! " 

" She's a most extraordinary woman ! " exclaimed Mr. Toots, 
in rapturous admiration. " You're perfectly right, my love, 
they have come home. Miss Dombey has seen her father, 
and they are reconciled ! " 

" Reconciled ! " cried Mrs. Toots, clapping her hands. 

" My dear," said Mr. Toots ; " pray do not exert yourself. 
Do remember the medical man ! Captain Gills says at least 
he don't say, but I imagine, from what I can make out, he 
means that Miss Dombey has brought her unfortunate father 
away from his old house, to one where she and Walters are 
living ; that he is lying very ill there supposed to be dying ; 
and that she attends upon him night and day." 

Mrs. Toots began to cry quite bitterly. 

" My dearest Susan," replied Mr. Toots, " do, do, if you 
possibly can, remember the medical man ! If you can't, it's 
of no consequence but do endeavour to ! " 

His wife, with her old manner suddenly restored, so 
pathetically entreated him to take her to her precious pet, 
her little mistress, her own darling, and the like, that Mr. 
Toots, whose sympathy and admiration were of the strongest 
kind, consented from his very heart of hearts; and they 
agreed to depart immediately, and present themselves in 
answer to the Captain's letter. 



504 DOMBEY AND SON. 

Now some hidden sympathies of things, or some coinci 
dences, had that day brought the Captain himself (toward 
whom Mr. and Mrs. Toots were soon journeying) into the 
flowery train of wedlock; not as a principal, but as an 
accessory. It happened accidentally, and thus : 

The Captain, having seen Florence and her baby for a 
moment, to his unbounded content, and having had a long 
talk with Walter, turned out for a walk ; feeling it necessary 
to have some solitary meditation on the changes of human 
affairs, and to shake his glazed hat profoundly over the fall 
of Mr. Dombey, for whom the generosity and simplicity of 
his nature were awakened in a lively manner. The Captain 
would have been very low, indeed, on the unhappy gentleman's 
account, but for the recollection of the baby ; which afforded 
him such intense satisfaction whenever it arose, that he 
laughed aloud as he went along the street, and, indeed, more 
than once, in a sudden impulse of joy, threw up his glazed 
hat and caught it again ; much to the amazement of the 
spectators. The rapid alternations of light and shade to 
which these two conflicting subjects of reflection exposed the 
Captain, were so very trying to his spirits, that he felt a long 
walk necessary to his composure ; and as there is a great deal 
in the influence of harmonious associations, he chose, for the 
scene of this walk, his old neighbourhood, down among the 
mast, oar, and block makers, ship-biscuit bakers, coal-whippers, 
pitch-kettles, sailors, canals, docks, swing-bridges, and other 
soothing objects. 

These peaceful scenes, and particularly the region of Lime- 
house Hole and thereabouts, were so influential in calming 
the Captain, that he walked on with restored tranquillity, and 
was, in fact, regaling himself, under his breath, with the 
ballad of Lovely Peg, when, on turning a corner, he was 
suddenly transfixed and rendered speechless by a triumphant 
procession that he beheld advancing towards him. 

This awful demonstration was headed by that determined 
woman, Mrs. MacStinger, who, preserving a countenance of 



BUNSBY TAKEN CAPTIVE. 505 

inexorable resolution, and wearing conspicuously attached to 
her obdurate bosom a stupendous watch and appendages, 
which the Captain recognised at a glance as the property of 
Bunsby, conducted under her arm no other than that sagacious 
mariner ; he, with the distraught and melancholy visage of a 
captive borne into a foreign land, meekly resigning himself to 
her will. Behind them appeared the young MacStingers, in 
a body, exulting. Behind them, two ladies of a terrible and 
steadfast aspect, leading between them a short gentleman in 
a tall hat, who likewise exulted. In the wake, appeared 
Bunsby "s boy, bearing umbrellas. The whole were in good 
marching order; and a dreadful smartness that pervaded the 
party would have sufficiently announced, if the intrepid 
countenances of the ladies had been wanting, that it was a 
procession of sacrifice, and that the victim was Bunsby. 

The first impulse of the Captain was to run away. This 
also appeared to be the first impulse of Bunsby, hopeless as 
its execution must have proved. But a cry of recognition 
proceeding from the party, and Alexander MacStinger 
running up to the Captain with open arms, the Captain 
struck. 

"Well, Cap'en Cuttle!" said Mrs. MacStinger. "This is 
indeed a meeting ! I bear no malice now. Cap'en Cuttle 
you needn't fear that I'm a going to cast any reflexions. I 
hope to go to the altar in another spirit." Here Mrs. Mac- 
Stinger paused, and drawing herself up, and inflating her 
bosom with a long breath, said, in allusion to the victim, 
" My usband, Cap'en Cuttle ! " 

The abject Bunsby looked neither to the right nor to the 
left, nor at his bride, nor at his friend, but straight before 
him at nothing. The Captain putting out his hand, Bunsby 
put out his ; but, in answer to the Captain's greeting, spake 
no word. 

" Cap'en Cuttle," said Mrs. MacStinger, " if you would wish 
to heal up past animosities, and to see the last of your friend, 
my usband, as a single person, we should be appy of your 



506 DOMBEY AND SON. 

company to chapel. Here is a lady here," said Mrs. Mac- 
Stinger, turning round to the more intrepid of the two, " my 
bridesmaid, that will be glad of your protection, Cap'en 
Cuttle." 

The short gentleman in the tall hat, who it appeared was 
the husband of the other lady, and who evidently exulted at 
the reduction of a fellow-creature to his own condition, gave 
place at this, and resigned the lady to Captain Cuttle. The 
lady immediately seized him, and, observing that there was 
no time to lose, gave the word, in a strong voice, to advance. . 

The Captain's concern for his friend, not unmingled, at 
first, with some concern for himself for a shadowy terror 
that he might be married by violence, possessed him, until his 
knowledge of the service came to his relief, and remembering 
the legal obligation of saying, "I will," he felt himself 
personally safe so long as he resolved, if asked any question, 
distinctly to reply " I won't " threw him into a profuse 
perspiration ; and rendered him, for a time, insensible to the 
movements of the procession, of which he now formed a 
feature, and to the conversation of his fair companion. But 
as he became less agitated, he learnt from this lady that she 
was the widow of a Mr. Bokum, who had held an employment 
in the Custom House; that she was the dearest friend of 
Mrs. MacStinger, whom she considered a pattern for her 
sex; that she had often heard of the Captain, and now 
hoped he had repented of his past life; that she trusted 
Mr. Bunsby knew what a blessing he had gained, but that 
she feared men seldom did know what such blessings were, 
until they had lost them ; with more to the same purpose. 

All this time, the Captain could not but observe that Mrs. 
Bokum kept her eyes steadily on the bridegroom, and that 
whenever they came near a court or other narrow turning 
which appeared favourable for flight, she was on the alert 
to cut him off if he attempted escape. The other lady, too, 
as well as her husband, the short gentleman with the tall 
hat, were plainly on guard, according to a preconcerted 



A VIGILANT GUARD. 507 

plan ; and the wretched man was so secured by Mrs. Mac- 
Stinger, that any effort at self-preservation by flight was 
rendered futile. This, indeed, was apparent to the mere 
populace, who expressed their perception of the fact by j eel's 
and cries ; to all of which, the dread MacStinger was in 
flexibly indifferent, while Bunsby himself appeared in a state 
of unconsciousness. 

The Captain made many attempts to accost the philosopher, 
if only in a monosyllable or a signal ; but always failed, in 
consequence of the vigilance of the guard, and the difficulty, 
at all times peculiar to Bunsby's constitution, of having his 
attention aroused by any outward and visible sign whatever. 
Thus they approached the chapel, a neat whitewashed edifice, 
recently engaged by the Reverend Melchisedech Howler, who 
had consented, on very urgent solicitation, to give the world 
another two years of existence, but had informed his followers 
that, then, it must positively go. 

While the Reverend Melchisedech was offering up some 
extemporary orisons, the Captain found an opportunity of 
growling in the bridegroom's ear : 

"What cheer, my lad, what cheer?" 

To which Bunsby replied, with a forgetfulness of the 
Reverend Melchisedech, which nothing but his desperate 
circumstances could have excused : 

D d bad." 

"Jack Bunsby," whispered the Captain, "do you do this 
here, o' your own free will?" 

Mr. Bunsby answered "No." 

" Why do you do it, then, my lad ? " inquired the Captain, 
not unnaturally. 

Bunsby, still looking, and always looking with an immove- 
able countenance, at the opposite side of the world, made no 
reply. 

"Why not sheer off?" said the Captain. 

"Eh?" whispered Bunsby, with a momentary gleam of 
hope. 



508 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Sheer off," said the Captain. 

" Where's the good ? " retorted the forlorn sage. " She'd 
capter me agen." 

" Try ! " replied the Captain. " Cheer up ! Come ! Now's 
your time. Sheer off', Jack Bunsby ! " 

Jack Bunsby, however, instead of profiting by the advice, 
said in a doleful whisper: 

"It all began in that there chest o' yourn. Why did I 
ever conwoy her into port that night ? " 

"My lad," faltered the Captain, "I thought as you had 
come over her; not as she had come over you. A man as 
has got such opinions as you have ! " 

Mr. Bunsby merely uttered a suppressed groan. 

" Come ! " said the Captain, nudging him with his elbow, 
"now's your time! Sheer off ! Til cover your retreat. The 
time's a flying. Bunsby ! It's for liberty. Will you once ? " 

Bunsby was immoveable. 

" Bunsby ! " whispered the Captain, " will you twice ? " 

Bunsby wouldn't twice. 

" Bunsby ! " urged the Captain, " it's for liberty ; will you 
three times ? Now or never ! " 

Bunsby didn't then, and didn't ever; for Mrs. MacStinger 
immediately afterwards married him. 

One of the most frightful circumstances of the ceremony 
to the Captain, was the deadly interest exhibited therein by 
Juliana MacStinger; and the fatal concentration of her 
faculties, with which that promising child, already the image 
of her parent, observed the whole proceedings. The Captain 
saw in this a succession of man-traps stretching out infinitely ; 
a series of ages of oppression and coercion, through which the 
seafaring line was doomed. It was a more memorable sight 
than the unflinching steadiness of Mrs. Bokum and the other 
lady, the exultation of the short gentleman in the tall hat, 
or even the fell inflexibility of Mrs. MacStinger. The Master 
MacStingers understood little of what was going on, and cared 
less ; being chiefly engaged, during the ceremony* in treading 



THE SACRIFICE COMPLETED. 509 

on one another's half-boots ; but the contrast afforded by 
those wretched infants only set off' and adorned the pre 
cocious woman in Juliana. Another year or two, the Captain 
thought, and to lodge where that child was, would be 
destruction. 

The ceremony was concluded by a general spring of the 
young family on Mr. Bunsby, whom they hailed by the 
endearing name of father, and from whom they solicited 
halfpence. These gushes of affection over, the procession 
was about to issue forth again, when it was delayed for 
some little time by an unexpected transport on the part of 
Alexander MacStinger. That dear child, it seemed, con 
necting a chapel with tombstones, when it was entered for 
any purpose apart from the ordinary religious exercises, could 
not be persuaded but that his mother was now to be decently 
interred, and lost to him for ever. In the anguish of this 
conviction, he screamed with astonishing force, and turned 
black in the face. However touching these marks of a tender 
disposition were to his mother, it was not in the character 
of that remarkable woman to permit her recognition of 
them to degenerate into weakness. Therefore, after vainly 
endeavouring to convince his reason by shakes, pokes, 
bawlings-out, and similar applications to his head, she led 
him into the air, and tried another method ; which was 
manifested to the marriage party by a quick succession of 
sharp sounds, resembling applause, and subsequently, by 
their seeing Alexander in contact with the coolest paving- 
stone in the court, greatly flushed, and loudly lamenting. 

The procession being then in a condition to form itself 
once more, and repair to Brig Place, where a marriage feast 
was in readiness, returned as it had come ; not without the 
receipt, by Bunsby, of many humorous congratulations 
from the populace on his recently-acquired happiness. The 
Captain accompanied it as far as the house-door, but, being 
made uneasy by the gentler manner of Mrs. Bokum, who, 
now that she was relieved from her engrossing duty for the 



510 DOMBEY AND SON. 

watchfulness and alacrity of the ladies sensibly diminished 
when the bridegroom was safely married had greater leisure 
to show an interest in his behalf, there left it and the captive ; 
faintly pleading an appointment, and promising to return 
presently. The Captain had another cause for uneasiness, 
in remorsefully reflecting that he had been the first means 
of Bunsby's entrapment, though certainly without intending 
it, and through his unbounded faith in the resources of that 
philosopher. 

To go back to old Sol Gills at the Wooden Midshipman's, 
and not first go round to ask how Mr. Dombey fared albeit 
the house where he lay was out of London, and away on 
the borders of a fresh heath was quite out of the Captain's 
course. So he got a lift when he was tired, and made out 
the journey gaily. 

The blinds were pulled down, and the house so quiet, that 
the Captain was almost afraid to knock ; but listening at 
the door, he heard low voices within, very near it, and, 
knocking softly, was admitted by Mr. Toots. Mr. Toots 
and his wife had, in fact, just arrived there ; having been at 
the Midshipman's to seek him, and having there obtained 
the address. 

They were not so recently arrived, but that Mrs. Toots 
had caught the baby from somebody, taken it in her arms, 
and sat down on the stairs, hugging and fondling it. Florence 
was stooping down beside her; and no one could have said 
which Mrs. Toots was hugging and fondling most, the mother 
or the child, or which was the tenderer, Florence of Mrs. 
Toots, or Mrs. Toots of her, or both of the baby; it was 
such a little group of love and agitation. 

"And is your Pa very ill, my darling dear Miss Floy? 1 ' 
asked Susan. 

"He is very, very ill, 1 ' said Florence. "But, Susan, dear, 
you must not speak to me as you used to speak. And what's 
this?" said Florence, touching her clothes, in amazement. 
" Your old dress, dear ? Your old cap, curls, and all ? " 



MISS NIPPER FAITHFUL TO THE LAST. 511 

Susan burst into tears, and showered kisses on the little 
hand that had touched her so wonderingly. 

"My dear Miss Dombey," said Mr. Toots, stepping for 
ward, " Fll explain. She's the most extraordinary woman. 
There are not many to equal her ! She has always said 
she said before we were married, and has said to this day 
that whenever you came home, she'd come to you in no dress 
but the dress she used to serve you in, for fear she might 
seem strange to you, and you might like her less. I admire 
the dress myself,"" said Mr. Toots, "of all things. I adore 
her in it ! My dear Miss Dombey, she'll be your maid again, 
your nurse, all that she ever was, and more. There's no 
change in her. But, Susan, my dear,' 1 said Mr. Toots, who 
had spoken with great feeling and high admiration, "all I 
ask is, that you'll remember the medical man, and not exert 
yourself too much." 



CHAPTER LXI. 

RELENTING. 

FLORENCE had need of help. Her father's need of it was 
sore, and made the aid of her old friend invaluable. Death 
stood at his pillow. A shade, already, of what he had been, 
shattered in mind, and perilously sick in body, he laid his 
weary head down on the bed his daughter's hands prepared 
for him, and had never raised it since. 

She was always with him. He knew her, generally ; though, 
in the wandering of his brain, he often confused the circum 
stances under which he spoke to her. Thus he would address 
her, sometimes, as if his boy were newly dead ; and would 
tell her, that although he had said nothing of her ministering 
at the little bedside, yet he had seen it he had seen it; 
and then would hide his face and sob, and put out his worn 
hand. Sometimes he would ask her for herself. " Where is 
Florence? 1 ' "I am here, Papa, I am here." "I don't know 
her ! " he would cry. " We have been parted so long, that 
I don't know her ! " and then a staring dread would be upon 
him, until she could soothe his perturbation ; and recall the 
tears she tried so hard, at other times, to dry. 

He rambled through the scenes of his old pursuits 
through many where Florence lost him as she listened 
sometimes for hours. He would repeat that childish question, 
"What is money?" and ponder on it, and think about it, 
and reason with himself, more or less connectedly, for a good 
answer; as if it had never been proposed to him until that 



ALWAYS FLORENCE. 513 

moment. He would go on with a musing repetition of the 
title of his old firm twenty thousand times, and at every one 
of them, would turn his head upon his pillow. He would 
count his children one two stop, and go back, and begin 
again in the same way. 

But this was when his mind was in its most distracted 
state. In all the other phases of its illness, and in those to 
which it was most constant, it always turned on Florence. 
What he would oftenest do was this: he would recall that 
night he had so recently remembered, the night on which 
she came down to his room, and would imagine that his 
heart smote him ? and that he went out after her, and up the 
stairs to seek her. Then, confounding that time with the 
later days of the many footsteps, he would be amazed at 
their number, and begin to count them as he followed her. 
Here, of a sudden, was a bloody footstep going on among 
the others ; and after it there began to be, at intervals, doors 
standing open, through which certain terrible pictures were 
seen, in mirrors, of haggard men, concealing something in 
their breasts. Still, among the many footsteps and the 
bloody footsteps here and there, was the step of Florence. 
Still she was going on before. Still the restless mind went, 
following and counting, ever farther, ever higher, as to the 
summit of a mighty tower that it took years to climb. 

One day he inquired if that were not Susan who had 
spoken a long while ago. 

Florence said " Yes, dear Papa ; " and asked him would he 
like to see her? 

He said "very much." And Susan, with no little trepida 
tion, showed herself at his bedside. 

It seemed a great relief to him. He begged her not 
to go; to understand that he forgave her what she had 
said; and that she was to stay. Florence and he were very 
different now, he said, and very happy. Let her look at 
this ! He meant his drawing the gentle head down to his 
pillow, and laying it beside him. 

VOL. II. L 



514 DOMBEY AND SON. 

He remained like this for days and weeks. At length, 
lying, the faint feeble semblance of a man, upon his bed, 
and speaking in a voice so low that they could only hear 
him by listening very near to his lips, he became quiet. It 
was dimly pleasant to him now, to lie there, with the window 
open, looking out at the summer sky and the trees : and, in 
the evening, at the sunset. To watch the shadows of the 
clouds and leaves, and seem to feel a sympathy with shadows. 
It was natural that he should. To him, life and the world 
were nothing else 

He began to show now that he thought of Florence^ 
fatigue: and often taxed his weakness to whisper to her, 
"Go and walk, my dearest, in the sweet air. Go to your 
good husband ! " One time when Walter was in his room, 
he beckoned him to come near, and to stoop down; and 
pressing his hand, whispered an assurance to him that he 
knew he could trust him with his child when he was 
dead. 

It chanced one evening, towards sunset, when Florence and 
Walter were sitting in his room together, as he liked to see 
them, that Florence, having her baby in her arms, began in 
a low voice to sing to the little fellow, and sang the old 
tune she had so often sung to the dead child. He could 
not bear it at the time ; he held up his trembling hand, 
imploring her to stop ; but next day he asked her to 
repeat it, and to do so often of an evening : which she did. 
He listening, with his face turned away. 

Florence was sitting on a certain time by his window, with 
her work-basket between her and her old attendant, who was 
still her faithful companion. He had fallen into a doze. It 
was a beautiful evening, with two hours of light to come yet ; 
and the tranquillity and quiet made Florence very thoughtful. 
She was lost to everything for the moment, but the occasion 
when the so altered figure on the bed had first presented her 
to her beautiful mama; when a touch from Walter leaning 
on the back of her chair, made her start. 



COUSIN FEENIX AMBLES IN. 515 

"My dear," said Walter, "there is some one down stairs 
who wishes to speak to you. 1 ' 

She fancied Walter looked grave, and asked him if anything 
had happened. 

" No, no, my love ! " said Walter. " I have seen the 
gentleman myself, and spoken with him. Nothing has 
happened. Will you come ? " 

Florence put her arm through his ; and confiding her 
father to the black-eyed Mrs. Toots, who sat as brisk and 
smart at her work as black-eyed woman could, accompanied 
her husband down stairs. In the pleasant little parlour 
opening on the garden, sat a gentleman, who rose to advance 
towards her when she came in, but turned off, by reason of 
some peculiarity in his legs, and was only stopped by the 
table. 

Florence then remembered Cousin Feenix, whom she had 
not at first recognised in the shade of the leaves. Cousin 
Feenix took her hand, and congratulated her upon her 
marriage. 

" I could have wished, I am sure," said Cousin Feenix, 
sitting down as Florence sat, "to have had an earlier oppor 
tunity of offering my congratulations : but, in point of fact, 
so many painful occurrences have happened, treading, as a 
man may say, on one another's heels, that I have been in a 
devil of a state myself, and perfectly unfit for every descrip 
tion of society. The only description of society I have kept, 
has been my own; and it certainly is anything but flattering 
to a man's good opinion of his own resources, to know that, 
in point of fact, he has the capacity of boring himself to a 
perfectly unlimited extent." 

Florence divined, from some indefinable constraint and 
anxiety in this gentleman's manner which was always a 
gentleman's, in spite of the harmless little eccentricities that 
attached to it and from Walter's manner no less, that some 
thing more immediately tending to some object was to follow 
this. 



516 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"I have been mentioning to my friend Mr. Gay, if I may 
be allowed to have the honour of calling him so, 11 said Cousin 
Feenix, "that I am rejoiced to hear that my friend Dombey 
is very decidedly mending. I trust my friend Dombey will 
not allow his mind to be too much preyed upon, by any mere 
loss of fortune. I cannot say that I have ever experienced 
any very great loss of fortune myself : never "having had, in 
point of fact, any great amount of fortune to lose. But as 
much as I could lose, I have lost ; and I don't find that I 
particularly care about it. I know my friend Dombey to be 
a devilish honourable man ; and it's calculated to console my 
friend Dombey very much, to know, that this is the universal 
sentiment. Even Tommy Screwzer, a man of an extremely 
bilious habit, with whom my friend Gay is probably acquainted 
cannot say a syllable in disputation of the fact.' 1 

Florence felt, more than ever, that there was something to 
come ; and looked earnestly for it. So earnestly, that Cousin 
Feenix answered, as if she had spoken. 

"The fact is, 1 ' said Cousin Feenix, "that my friend Gay 
and myself have been discussing the propriety of entreating 
a favour at your hands ; and that I have the consent of my 
friend Gay who has met me in an exceedingly kind and 
open manner, for which I am very much indebted to him 
to solicit it. I am sensible that so amiable a lady as the 
lovely and accomplished daughter of my friend Dombey, will 
not require much urging ; but I am happy to know, that I 
am supported by my friend Gay's influence and approval. 
As in my parliamentary time, when a man had a motion to 
make of any sort which happened seldom in those days, for 
we were kept very tight in hand, the leaders on both sides 
being regular Martinets, which was a devilish good thing for 
the rank and file, like myself, and prevented our exposing 
ourselves continually, as a great many of us had a feverish 
anxiety to do as, in my parliamentary time, I Avas about to 
say, when a man had leave to let off any little private pop 
gun, it was always considered a great point for him to say 



COUSIN FEENIX ASKS A FAVOUR. 517 

that he had the happiness of believing that his sentiments 
were not without an echo in the breast of Mr. Pitt ; the 
pilot, in point of fact, who had weathered the storm. Upon 
which, a devilish large number of fellows immediately cheered, 
and put him in spirits. Though the fact is, that these fellows, 
being under orders to cheer most excessively whenever Mr. 
Pitt's name was mentioned, became so proficient that it always 
woke 'em. And they were so entirely innocent of what was 
going on, otherwise, that it used to be commonly said by 
Conversation Brown four-bottle man at the Treasury Board, 
with whom the father of my friend Gay was probably ac 
quainted, for it was before my friend Gay's time that if a 
man had risen in his place, and said that he regretted to 
inform the house that there was an Honourable Member in 
the last stage of convulsions in the Lobby, and that the 
Honourable Member's name was Pitt, the approbation would 
have been vociferous." 

This postponement of the point, put Florence in a flutter ; 
and she looked from Cousin Feenix to Walter, in increasing 
agitation. 

" My love, 1 ' said Walter, " there is nothing the matter." 

"There is nothing the matter, upon my honour," said 
Cousin Feenix; "and I am deeply distressed at being the 
means of causing you a moment's uneasiness. I beg to assure 
you that there is nothing the matter. The favour that I 
have to ask is, simply but it really does seem so exceeding 
singular, that I should be in the last degree obliged to my 
friend Gay if he would have the goodness to break the in 
point of fact, the ice," said Cousin Feenix. 

Walter thus appealed to, and appealed to no less in the 
look that Florence turned towards him, said : 

" My dearest, it is no more than this. That you will ride 
to London with this gentleman, whom you know." 

" And my friend Gay, also I beg your pardon ! " inter 
rupted Cousin Feenix. 

" And with me and make a visit somewhere." 



518 DOMBEY AND SON. 

"To whom?" asked Florence, looking from one to the 
other. 

" If I might entreat, 1 " said Cousin Feenix, " that you would 
not press for an answer to that question, I would venture 
to take the liberty of making the request.' 1 

" Do you know, Walter ? " 

" Yes." 

" And think it right ? " 

"Yes. Only because I am sure that you would too. 
Though there may be reasons I very well understand, which 
make it better that nothing more should be said beforehand. 11 

" If Papa is still asleep, or can spare me if he is awake, I 
will go immediately, 1 ' said Florence. And rising quietly, and 
glancing at them with a look that was a little alarmed but 
perfectly confiding, left the room. 

When she came back, ready to bear them company, they 
were talking together, gravely, at the window ; and Florence 
could not but wonder Avhat the topic was, that had made 
them so well acquainted in so short a time. She did not 
wonder at the look of pride and love with which her husband 
broke off as she entered ; for she never saw him, but that 
rested on her. 

" I will leave, 11 said Cousin Feenix, " a card for my friend 
Dombey, sincerely trusting that he will pick up health and 
strength with every returning hour. And I hope my friend 
Dombey will do me the favour to consider me a man who 
has a devilish warm admiration of his character, as, in point 
of fact, a British merchant and a devilish upright gentleman. 
My place in the country is in a most confounded state of 
dilapidation, but if my friend Dombey should require a 
change of air, and would take up his quarters there, he 
would find it a remarkably healthy spot as it need be, for 
it's amazingly dull. If my friend Dombey suffers from bodily 
weakness, and would allow me to recommend what has fre 
quently done myself good, as a man who has been extremely 
queer at times, and who lived pretty freely in the days when 



A DRIVE TO LONDON 519 

men lived very freely, I should say, let it be in point of fact 
the yolk of an egg, beat up with sugar and nutmeg, in a 
glass of sherry, and taken in the morning with a slice of dry 
toast. Jackson, who kept the boxing-rooms in Bond Street 
man of very superior qualifications, with whose reputation 
my friend Gay is no doubt acquainted used to mention 
that in training for the ring they substituted rum for sherry. 
I should recommend sherry in this case, on account of my 
friend Dombey being in an invalided condition ; which 
might occasion rum to fly in point of fact to his head 
and throw him into a devil of a state."" 

Of all this, Cousin Feenix delivered himself with an 
obviously nervous and discomposed air. Then, giving his 
arm to Florence, and putting the strongest possible constraint 
upon his wilful legs, which seemed determined to go out into 
the garden, he led her to the door, and handed her into a 
carriage that was ready for her reception. 

Walter entered after him, and they drove away. 

Their ride was six or eight miles long. When they drove 
through certain dull and stately streets, lying westward in 
London, it was growing dusk. Florence had, by this time, 
put her hand in Walter's ; and was looking very earnestly, 
and with increasing agitation, into every new street into 
which they turned. 

When the carriage stopped, at last, before that house in 
Brook Street, where her father's unhappy marriage had been 
celebrated, Florence said, " Walter, what is this ? Who is 
here ? " Walter cheering her, and not replying, she glanced 
up at the house-front, and saw that all the windows were 
shut, as if it were uninhabited. Cousin Feenix had by this 
time alighted, and was offering his hand. 

"Are you not coming, Walter ?" 

" No, I will remain here. Don't tremble ! there is nothing 
to fear, dearest Florence." 

"I know that, Walter, with you so near. I am sure of 
that, but " 



520 DOMBEY AND SON. 

The door was softly opened, without any knock, and 
Cousin Feenix led her out of the summer evening air into 
the close dull house. More sombre and brown than ever, it 
seemed to have been shut up from the wedding-day, and to 
have hoarded darkness and sadness ever since. 

Florence ascended the dusky staircase, trembling; and 
stopped, with her conductor, at the drawing-room door. He 
opened it, without speaking, and signed an entreaty to her 
to advance into the inner room, while he remained there. 
Florence, after hesitating an instant, complied. 

Sitting by the window at a table, where she seemed to 
have been writing or drawing, was a lady, whose head, turned 
away towards the dying light, was resting on her hand. 
Florence advancing, doubtfully, all at once stood still, as if 
she had lost the power of motion. The lady turned her 
head. 

" Great Heaven ! " she said, " what is this ? 

" No, no ! " cried Florence, shrinking back as she rose up, 
and putting out her hands to keep her off. " Mama ! " 

They stood looking at each other. Passion and pride had 
worn it, but it was the face of Edith, and beautiful and 
stately yet. It was the face of Florence, and through all the 
terrified avoidance it expressed, there was pity in it, sorrow, 
a grateful tender memory. On each face, wonder and fear 
were painted vividly ; each so still and silent, looking at the 
other over the black gulf of the irrevocable past. 

Florence was the first to change. Bursting into tears, she 
said from her full heart, " Oh, Mama, Mama ! why do we 
meet like this ? Why were you ever kind to me when there 
was no one else, that we should meet like this ? " 

Edith stood before her, dumb and motionless. Her eyes 
were fixed upon her face. 

" I dare not think of that," said Florence, " I am come 
from Papa's sick bed. We are never asunder now ; we never 
shall be, any more. If you would have me ask his pardon, 
I will do it, Mama. I am almost sure he will grant it 



A MEETING WITH EDITH. 521 

now, if I ask him. May Heaven grant it to you, too, and 
comfort you ! " 

She answered not a word. 

" Walter I am married to him, and we have a son," 
said Florence, timidly "is at the door, and has brought me 
here. I will tell him that you are repentant; that you are 
changed," said Florence, looking mournfully upon her ; " and 
he will speak to Papa with me, I know. Is there anything 
but this that I can do ? " 

Edith, breaking her silence, without moving eye or limb, 
answered slowly : 

" The stain upon your name, upon your husband's, on 
your child's. Will that ever be forgiven, Florence ? " 

" Will it ever be, Mama ? It is ! Freely, freely, both by 
Walter and by me. If that is any consolation to you, there 
is nothing that you may believe more certainly. You do 
not you do not," faltered Florence, " speak of Papa ; but 
I am sure you wish that I should ask him for his forgiveness. 
I am sure you do." 

She answered not a word. 

" I will ! " said Florence. " I will bring it you, if you will 
let me ; and then, perhaps, we may take leave of each other, 
more like what we used to be to one another. I have not," 
said Florence very gently, and drawing nearer to her, " I 
have not shrunk back from you, Mama, because I fear you, 
or because I dread to be disgraced by you. I only wish to 
do my duty to Papa. I am very dear to him, and he is 
very dear to me. But I never can forget that you were very 
good to me. Oh, pray to Heaven," cried Florence, falling on 
her bosom, "pray to Heaven, Mama, to forgive you all this 
sin and shame, and to forgive me if I cannot help doing 
this (if it is wrong), when I remember what you used 
to be!" 

Edith, as if she fell beneath her touch, sunk down on her 
knees, and caught her round the neck. 

" Florence ! " she cried. " My better angel ! Before I am 



522 DOMBEY AND SON. 

mad again, before my stubbornness comes back and strikes 
me dumb, believe me, upon my soul I am innocent." 

" Mama ! " 

" Guilty of much ! Guilty of that which sets a waste 
between us evermore. Guilty of what must separate me, 
through the whole remainder of my life, from purity and 
innocence from you, of all the earth. Guilty of a blind 
and passionate resentment, of which I do not, cannot, will 
not, even now, repent ; but not guilty with that dead man. 
Before God ! " 

Upon her knees upon the ground, she held up both her 
hands, and swore it. 

" Florence ! " she said, " purest and best of natures, whom 
I love who might have changed me long ago, and did for 
a time work some change even in the woman that I am, 
believe me, I am innocent of that ; and once more, on my 
desolate heart, let me lay this dear head, for the last 
time ! " 

She was moved and weeping. Had she been oftener thus 
in older days, she had been happier now. 

" There is nothing else in all the world " she said, " that 
would have wrung denial from me. No love, no hatred, no 
hope, no threat. I said that I would die, and make no sign. 
I could have done so, and I would, if we had never met, 
Florence. 11 

" I trust, 11 said Cousin Feenix, ambling in at the door, and 
speaking, half in the room, and half out of it, "that my 
lovely and accomplished relative will excuse my having, by a 
little stratagem, effected this meeting. I cannot say that I 
was, at first, wholly incredulous as to the possibility of my 
lovely and accomplished relative having, very unfortunately, 
committed herself with the deceased person with white teeth ; 
because, in point of fact, one does see, in this world which 
is remarkable for devilish strange arrangements, and for being 
decidedly the most unintelligible thing within a man's experi 
ence very odd conjunctions of that sort. But as I mentioned 



COUSIN FEENIX RAMBLES ON. 

to my friend Dombey, I could not admit the criminality of 
my lovely and accomplished relative until it was perfectly 
established. And feeling, when the deceased person was, in 
point of fact, destroyed in a devilish horrible manner, that 
her position was a very painful one and feeling besides that 
our family had been a little to blame in not paying more 
attention to her, and that we are a careless family and also 
that my aunt, though a devilish lively Avoman, had perhaps 
not been the very best of mothers I took the liberty of 
seeking her in France, and offering her such protection as 
a man very much out at elbows could offer. Upon which 
occasion, my lovely and accomplished relative did me the 
honour to express that she believed I was, in my way, a 
devilish good sort of fellow; and that therefore she put 
herself under my protection. Which in point of fact I 
understood to be a kind thing on the part of my lovely and 
accomplished relative, as I am getting extremely shaky, and 
have derived great comfort from her solicitude. 1 ' 

Edith, who had taken Florence to a sofa, made a gesture 
with her hand as if she would have begged him to say no 
more. 

"My lovely and accomplished relative," resumed Cousin 
Feenix, still ambling about at the door, "will excuse me, if, 
for her satisfaction, and my own, and that of my friend 
Dombey, whose lovely and accomplished daughter we so much 
admire, I complete the thread of my observations. She will 
remember that, from the first, she and I have never alluded 
to the subject of her elopement. My impression, certainly, has 
always been, that there was a mystery in the affair which she 
could explain if so inclined. But my lovely and accomplished 
relative being a devilish resolute woman, I knew that she 
was not, in point of fact, to be trifled with, and therefore 
did not involve myself in any discussions. But observing 
lately, that her accessible point did appear to be a very 
strong description of tenderness for the daughter of my 
friend Dombey, it occurred to me that if I could bring about 



524 DOMBEY AND SON. 

a meeting, unexpected on both sides, it might lead to bene 
ficial results. Therefore, we being in London, in the present 
private way, before going to the South of Italy, there to 
establish ourselves, in point of fact, until we go to our long 
homes, which is a devilish disagreeable reflection for a man, 
I applied myself to the discovery of the residence of my friend 
Gay handsome man of an uncommonly frank disposition, 
who is probably known to my lovely and accomplished relative 
and had the happiness of bringing his amiable wife to the 
present place. And now," said Cousin Feenix, with a real 
and genuine earnestness shining through the levity of his 
manner and his slipshod speech, " I do conjure my relative, not 
to stop half way, but to set right, as far as she can, whatever 
she has done wrong not for the honour of her family, not 
for her own fame, not for any of those considerations which 
unfortunate circumstances have induced her to regard as 
hollow, and in point of fact, as approaching to humbug 
but because it is wrong, and not right. 11 

Cousin Feenix's legs consented to take him away after 
this ; and leaving them alone together, he shut the door. 

Edith remained silent for some minutes, with Florence 
sitting close beside her. Then she took from her bosom a 
sealed paper. 

"I debated with myself a long time, 11 she said in a low 
voice, " whether to write this at all, in case of dying suddenly 
or by accident, and feeling the want of it upon me. I have 
deliberated, ever since, when and how to destroy it. Take 
it, Florence. The truth is written in it. 11 

" Is it for Papa ? " asked Florence. 

" It is for whom you will, 11 she answered. " It is given to 
you, and is obtained by you. He never could have had it 
otherwise. 11 

Again they sat silent, in the deepening darkness. 

" Mama,"" said Florence, " he has lost his fortune ; he has 
been at the point of death; he may not recover, even now. 
Is there any word that I shall say to him from you ? " 



LAST MESSAGES. 525 

" Did you tell me, 1 ' asked Edith, " that you were very dear 
to him?" 

" Yes ! " said Florence, in a thrilling voice. 

"Tell him I am sorry that we ever met." 

" No more ? " said Florence after a pause. 

" Tell him, if he asks, that I do not repent of what I have 
done not yet for if it were to do again to-morrow, I should 
do it. But if he is a changed man " 

She stopped. There was something in the silent touch of 
Florence^ hand that stopped her. 

" But that being a changed man, he knows, now, it 
would never be. Tell him I wish it never had been." 

" May I say," said Florence, " that you grieved to hear of 
the afflictions he has suffered ? " 

" Not," she replied, " if they have taught him that his 
daughter is very dear to him. He will not grieve for them 
himself, one day, if they have brought that lesson, Florence." 

" You wish well to him, and would have him happy. I am 
sure you would ! " said Florence. " Oh ! let me be able, if I 
have the occasion at some future time, to say so ? " 

Edith sat with her dark eyes gazing steadfastly before her, 
and did not reply until Florence had repeated her entreaty ; 
when she drew her hand within her arm, and said, with the 
same thoughtful gaze upon the night outside : 

"Tell him that if, in his own present, he can find any 
reason to compassionate my past, I sent word that I asked 
him to do so. Tell him that if, in his own present, he can 
find a reason to think less bitterly of me, I asked him to do 
so. Tell him, that, dead as we are to one another, never 
more to meet on this side of eternity, he knows there is one 
feeling in common between us now, that there never was 
before." 

Her sternness seemed to yield, and there were tears in her 
dark eyes. 

" I trust myself to that," she said, " for his better thoughts 
of me, and mine of him. When he loves his Florence most, 



526 DOMBEY AND SON. 

he will hate me least. When he is most proud and happy in 
her and her children, he will be most repentant of his own 
part in the dark vision of our married life. At that time, I 
will be repentant too let him know it then and think that 
when I thought so much of all the causes that had made me 
what I was, I needed to have allowed more for the causes 
that had made him what he was. I will try, then, to forgive 
him his share of blame. Let him try to forgive me mine ! " 

" Oh Mama ! " said Florence. " How it lightens my heart, 
even in such a meeting and parting, to hear this ! " 

" Strange words in my own ears, 11 said Edith, " and foreign 
to the sound of my own voice ! But even if I had been the 
wretched creature I have given him occasion to believe me, I 
think I could have said them still, hearing that you and he 
were very dear to one another. Let him, when you are 
dearest, ever feel that he is most forbearing in his thoughts 
of me that I am most forbearing in my thoughts of him ! 
Those are the last words I send him ! Now, good-bye, my 
life! 11 

She clasped her in her arms, and seemed to pour out all 
her woman's soul of love and tenderness at once. 

" This kiss for your child ! These kisses for a blessing on 
your head ! My own dear Florence, my sweet girl, farewell ! " 

" To meet again ! " cried Florence. 

" Never again ! Never again ! When you leave me in 
this dark room, think that you have left me in the grave. 
Remember only that I was once, and that I loved you ! " 

And Florence left her, seeing her face no more, but 
accompanied by her embraces and caresses to the last. 

Cousin Feenix met her at the door, and took her down to 
Walter in the dingy dining-room : upon whose shoulder she 
laid her head weeping. 

"I am devilish sorry, 11 said Cousin Feenix, lifting his 
wristbands to his eyes in the simplest manner possible, and 
without the least concealment, "that the lovely and accom 
plished daughter of my friend Dombey and amiable wife of 



COUSIN FEENIX ON HUMAN LIFE. 527 

my friend Gay, should have had her sensitive nature so very 
much distressed and cut up by the interview which is just 
concluded. But I hope and trust I have acted for the best, 
and that my honourable friend Dombey will find his mind 
relieved by the disclosures which have taken place. I 
exceedingly lament that my friend Dombey should have got 
himself, in point of fact, into the devil's own state of con 
glomeration by an alliance with our family; but am strongly 
of opinion that if it hadn't been for the infernal scoundrel 
Barker man with white teeth everything would have gone 
on pretty smoothly. In regard to my relative who does me 
the honour to have formed an uncommonly good opinion of 
myself, I can assure the amiable wife of my friend Gay, that 
she may rely on my being, in point of fact, a father to her. 
And in regard to the changes of human life, and the extra 
ordinary manner in which we are perpetually conducting 
ourselves, all I can say is, with my friend Shakespeare man 
Avho wasn't for an age but for all time, and with whom my 
friend Gay is no doubt acquainted that it's like the shadow 
of a dream." 



CHAPTER LXII. 

FINAL. 

A BOTTLE that has been long excluded from the light of day, 
and is hoary with dust and cobwebs, has been brought into 
the sunshine; and the golden wine within it sheds a lustre 
on the table. 

It is the last bottle of the old Madeira. 

"You are quite right, Mr. Gills," says Mr. Dombey. 
"This is a very rare and most delicious wine." 

The Captain, who is of the party, beams with joy. There 
is a very halo of delight round his glowing forehead. 

"We always promised ourselves, Sir," observes Mr. Gills, 
"Ned and myself, I mean " 

Mr. Dombey nods at the Captain, who shines more and 
more with speechless gratification. 

" that we would drink this, one day or other, to Walter 
safe at home : though such a home we never thought of. If 
you don't object to our old whim, Sir, let us devote this first 
glass to Walter and his wife." 

" To Walter and his wife ! " says Mr. Dombey. " Florence, 
my child" and turns to kiss her. 

" To Walter and his wife ! " says Mr. Toots. 

"To WalV and his wife!" exclaims the Captain. 
"Hooroar!" and the Captain exhibiting a strong desire 
to clink his glass against some other glass, Mr. Dombey, 
with a ready hand, holds out his. The others follow; and 



A WHITE-HAIRED GENTLEMAN. 529 

there is a blithe and merry ringing, as of a little peal of 
marriage bells. 

Other buried wine grows older, as the old Madeira did in 
its time; and dust and cobwebs thicken on the bottles. 

Mr. Dombey is a white-haired gentleman, whose face bears 
heavy marks of care and suffering ; but they are traces of a 
storm that has passed on for ever, and left a clear evening 
in its track. 

Ambitious projects trouble him no more. His only pride 
is in his daughter and her husband. He has a silent, 
thoughtful, quiet manner, and is always with his daughter. 
Miss Tox is not ^infrequently of the family party, and is 
quite devoted to it, and a great favourite. Her admiration 
of her once stately patron is, and has been ever since the 
morning of her shock in Princess's Place, platonic, but not 
weakened in the least. 

Nothing has drifted to him from the wreck of his fortunes, 
but a certain annual sum that comes he knows not how, with 
an earnest entreaty that he will not seek to discover, and 
with the assurance that it is a debt, and an act of reparation. 
He has consulted with his old clerk about this, who is clear 
it may be honourably accepted, and has no doubt it arises 
out of some forgotten transaction in the times of the old 
House. 

That hazel-eyed bachelor, a bachelor no more, is married 
now, and to the sister of the grey-haired Junior. He visits 
his old chief sometimes, but seldom. There is a reason in 
the grey-haired Junior's history, and yet a stronger reason 
in his name, why he should keep retired from his old 
employer ; and as he lives with his sister and her husband, 
they participate in that retirement. Walter sees them some 
times Florence too and the pleasant house resounds with 
profound duets arranged for the Piano-Forte and Violoncello, 
and with the labours of Harmonious Blacksmiths. 

And how goes the Wooden Midshipman in these changed 

VOL. ii. 2 M 



530 DOMBEY AND SON. 

days? Why, here he still is, right leg foremost, hard at 
work upon the hackney coaches, and more on the alert than 
ever, being newly painted from his cocked hat to his buckled 
shoes; and up above him, in golden characters, these names 
shine refulgent, GILLS AND CUTTLE. 

Not another stroke of business does the Midshipman achieve 
beyond his usual easy trade. But they do say, in a circuit 
of some half-mile round the blue umbrella in Leadenhall 
Market, that some of Mr. Gills's old investments are coming 
out wonderfully well; and that instead of being behind the 
time in those respects, as he supposed, he was, in truth, a 
little before it, and had to wait the fulness of the time and 
the design. The whisper is that Mr. Gills's money has 
begun to turn itself, and that it is turning itself over and 
over pretty briskly. Certain it is that, standing at his 
shop-door, in his coffee-coloured suit, with his chronometer 
in his pocket, and his spectacles on his forehead, he don't 
appear to break his heart at customers not coming, but 
looks very jovial and contented, though full as misty as of 
yore. 

As to his partner, Captain Cuttle, there is a fiction of a 
business in the Captain's mind which is better than any reality. 
The Captain is as satisfied of the Midshipman's importance 
to the commerce and navigation of the country, as he could 
possibly be, if no ship left the Port of London without the 
Midshipman's assistance. His delight in his own name over 
the door, is inexhaustible. He crosses the street, twenty 
times a day, to look at it from the other side of the way ; 
and invariably says, on these occasions, " Ed'ard Cuttle, my 
lad, if your mother could ha' know'd as you would ever be 
a man o' science, the good old creetur would ha' been took 
aback in-deed ! " 

But here is Mr. Toots descending on the Midshipman with 
violent rapidity, and Mr. Toots's face is very red as he bursts 
into the little parlour. 

"Captain Gills," says Mr. Toots, "and Mr. Sols, I am 



MRS. TOOTS DISTINGUISHES HERSELF. 531 

happy to inform you that Mrs. Toots has had an increase to 
her family." 

" And it does her credit ! " cries the Captain. 
" I give you joy, Mr. Toots ! " says old Sol. 
" Thank'ee," chuckles Mr. Toots, " I'm very much obliged 
to you. I knew that you'd be glad to hear, and so I came 
down myself. We're positively getting on, you know. There's 
Florence, and Susan, and now here's another little stranger." 
" A female stranger ? " inquires the Captain. 
"Yes, Captain Gills," says Mr. Toots, "and I'm glad of it. 
The oftener we can repeat that most extraordinary woman, 
my opinion is, the better ! " 

" Stand by ! " says the Captain, turning to the old case- 
bottle with no throat for it is evening, and the Midshipman's 
usual moderate provision of pipes and glasses is on the board. 
" Here's to her, and may she have ever so many more ! " 

"Thank'ee, Captain Gills," says the delighted Mr. Toots. 
" I echo the sentiment. If you'll allow me, as my so doing 
cannot be unpleasant to anybody, under the circumstances, I 
think I'll take a pipe." 

Mr. Toots begins to smoke, accordingly, and in the open 
ness of his heart is very loquacious. 

" Of all the remarkable instances that that delightful 
woman has given of her excellent sense, Captain Gills and 
Mr. Sols," said Toots, "I think none is more remarkable 
than the perfection with which she has understood my devo 
tion to Miss Dombey." 
Both his auditors assent. 

" Because you know," says Mr. Toots, " / have never changed 
my sentiments towards Miss Dombey. They are the same as 
ever. She is the same bright vision to me, at present, that 
she was before I made Walters's acquaintance. When Mrs. 
Toots and myself first began to talk of in short, of the 
tender passion, you know, Captain Gills." 

"Aye, aye, my lad," says the Captain, "as makes us all 
slue round for which you'll overhaul the book " 



532 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" I shall certainly do so, Captain Gills," says Mr. Toots, 
with great earnestness; "when we first began to mention 
such subjects, I explained that I was what you may call a 
Blighted Flower, you know. 1 " 

The Captain approves of this figure greatly ; and murmurs 
that no flower as blows, is like the rose. 

"But Lord bless me, 11 pursues Mr. Toots, "she was as 
entirely conscious of the state of my feelings as I was myself. 
There was nothing I could tell her. She was the only person 
who could have stood between me and the silent Tomb, and 
she did it, in a manner to command my everlasting admira 
tion. She knows that there's nobody in the world I look up 
to, as I do to Miss Dombey. She knows that there's nothing 
on earth I wouldn't do for Miss Dombey. She knows that I 
consider Miss Dombey the most beautiful, the most amiable, 
the most angelic of her sex. What is her observation upon 
that? The perfection of sense. 'My dear, you're right. / 
think so too. 111 

" And so do I ! " says the Captain. 

" So do I," says Sol Gills. 

"Then," resumes Mr. Toots, after some contemplative 
pulling at his pipe, during which his visage has expressed the 
most contented reflection, " what an observant woman my 
wife is ! What sagacity she possesses ! What remarks she 
makes ! It was only last night, when we were sitting in the 
enjoyment of connubial bliss which, upon my word and 
honour, is a feeble term to express my feelings in the society 
of my wife that she said how remarkable it was to consider 
the present position of our friend Walters. 'Here,' observes 
my wife, ' he is, released from sea-going, after that first long 
voyage with his young bride' as you know he was, Mr. 
Sols." 

" Quite true," says the old Instrument-maker, rubbing his 
hands. 

" ' Here he is,' says my wife, ' released from that, imme 
diately; appointed by the same establishment to a post of 



AN OLD QUOTATION VERIFIED. 533 

great trust and confidence at home ; showing himself again 
worthy ; mounting up the ladder with the greatest expedition ; 
beloved by everybody ; assisted by his uncle at the very best 
possible time of his fortunes ' which I think is the case, Mr. 
Sols? My wife is always correct." 

" Why yes, yes some of our lost ships, freighted with 
gold, have come home, truly," returns old Sol, laughing. 
" Small craft, Mr. Toots, but serviceable to my boy ! " 

" Exactly so," says Mr. Toots. " You'll never find my 
wife wrong. * Here he is, 1 says that most remarkable woman, 
'so situated, and what follows? What follows?' observed 
Mrs. Toots. Now pray remark, Captain Gills, and Mr. Sols, 
the depth of my wife's penetration. * Why that, under the 
very eye of Mr. Dombey, there is a foundation going on, 
upon which a an Edifice ; ' that was Mrs. Toots's word," 
says Mr. Toots exultingly, " ' is gradually rising, perhaps to 
equal, perhaps excel, that of which he was once the head, 
and the small beginnings of which (a common fault, but a 
bad one, Mrs. Toots said) escaped his memory. Thus,' said 
my wife, ' from his daughter, after all, another Dombey and 
Son will ascend ' no ' rise ; ' that was Mrs, Toots's word 
* triumphant.' " 

Mr. Toots, with the assistance of his pipe which he is 
extremely glad to devote to oratorical purposes, as its' proper 
use affects him with a very uncomfortable sensation does 
such grand justice to this prophetic sentence of his wife's, 
that the Captain, throwing away his glazed hat in a state of 
the greatest excitement, cries : 

" Sol Gills, you man of science and my oukl pardner, what 
did I tell Wal'r to overhaul on that there night when he 
first took to business ? Was it this here quotation, 4 Turn 
again Whittington, Lord Mayor of London, and when you 
are old you will never depart from it ' ? Was it them words, 
Sol Gills?" 

"It certainly was, Ned," replied the old Instrument- 
maker. " I remember well." 



534 DOMBEY AND SON. 

" Then I tell you what," says the Captain, leaning back in 
his chair, and composing his chest for a prodigious roar. 
" I'll give you Lovely Peg right through ; and stand by, both 
on you, for the chorus ! " 

Buried wine grows older, as the old Madeira did, in its 
time; and dust and cobwebs thicken on the bottles. 

Autumn days are shining, and on the sea-beach there are 
often a young lady, and a white-haired gentleman. With 
them, or near them, are two children : boy and girl. And 
an old dog is generally in their company. 

The white-haired gentleman walks with the little boy, talks 
with him, helps him in his play, attends upon him, watches 
him, as if he were the object of his life. If he be thoughtful, 
the white-haired gentleman is thoughtful too ; and sometimes 
when the child is sitting by his side, and looks up in his 
face, asking him questions, he takes the tiny hand in his, 
and holding it, forgets to answer. Then the child says : 

"What, grandpapa! Am I so like my poor little uncle 
again ? " 

"Yes, Paul. But he was weak, and you are very strong." 

"Oh yes, I am very strong." 

"And he lay on a little bed beside the sea, and you can 
run about." 

And so they range away again, busily, for the white-haired 
gentleman likes best to see the child free and stirring; and 
as they go about together, the story of the bond between 
them goes about, and follows them. 

But no one, except Florence, knows the measure of the 
whiter-haired gentleman's affection for the girl. That story 
never goes about. The child herself almost wonders at a 
certain secrecy he keeps in it. He hoards her in his heart. 
He cannot bear to see a cloud upon her face. He cannot 
bear to see her sit apart. He fancies that she feels a slight, 
when there is none. He steals away to look at her, in her 
sleep. It pleases him to have her come, and wake him in 



LITTLE FLORENCE. 



535 



the morning. He is fondest of her and most loving to her, 
when there is no creature by. The child says then, some 
times : 

" Dear grandpapa, why do you cry when you kiss me ? " 
He only answers, " Little Florence ! Little Florence ! " 
and smooths away the curls that shade her earnest eyes. 



NOTE ON DOMBEY AND SON. 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

"Bunsby, you carry a weight of mind easy, as would swamp one of 
my tonnage soon." 

This may have been in Tennyson's mind when he described Pro 
fessor Lushington as 

" Wearing all that weight 
Of learning lightly, like a flower." 



THE END. 



FEINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED, LONDON AND BECCLES. 







PR 
4550 
E97 
v.9 



Dickens, Charles 

Works Gadshill ed. 



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